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After a long, cold winter, we are all looking forward to spending some much needed time outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather summer brings!  However, with that come the possibilities of danger, as the summertime heat can become brutal.  Keeping cool during summer isn’t just for comfort but also for your wellness. 

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly. Extreme heat affects everyone, but the elderly, children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors, and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk.

Follow these tips below to stay cool this summer:

  1. Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can't change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead or running, or decreasing your level of exertion.
  2. Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.
  3. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.
  4. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
  5. Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.
  6. Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.
  7. Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.
  8. Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.
  9. Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.
  10. Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attaches to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.
  11. I learned this trick from a tennis pro: if you're wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.
  12. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.
  13. Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won't have to cook next to a hot stove.
  14. If you don't have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool. Many cities have cooling centers that are open to the public on sweltering days.
  15. Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don't forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses too.
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Shingrix is the new shingles vaccination.  The CDC is now recommending Shingrix instead of Zostavax.  Recommendations for administration of Shingrix are two doses separated by 2-6 months.  Healthy adults ages 50 and greater are the population that should be immunized.  Shingrix is NOT a live vaccination, so it can be used in a wider range of patient population.  Shingrix has been shown to be >90% effective at protecting against shingles and post herpetic neuralgia when both doses are administered.

In adults 50 to 69 years old who received two doses, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles and 91% effective in preventing post herpetic neuralgia.  In adults 70 years and older who received two doses, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing shingles and 89% effective in preventing post herpetic neuralgia.  At least 85% coverage has been shown even 4 years after the initial vaccination series.

Patients should receive Shingrix even if they have had shingles, already had Zostavax, or if chicken pox status is unknown.  Patients should wait 8 weeks if he/she has recently had Zostavax before getting Shingrix vaccinations.  There is no maximum age for the vaccination as risk of shingles and post herpetic neuralgia increase with age.

Patients that should not receive Shingrix are those who are allergic to Shingrix, pregnant or breastfeeding, currently have shingles, or have tested negative for immunity to varicella zoster.

If a patient has a minor illness with temperature <101.3F, he/she may receive the vaccination.  If a patient has a moderate-severe illness or if temperature is >101.3F, wait until he/she is well before receiving the immunization.

Side effects in studies last 2-3 days included, a sore arm with mild-moderate pain, redness and swelling at injection site, feeling tired, muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea.  Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.

The Shingrix vaccine is available daily.  Stop by to get vaccinated or contact one of our pharmacists for more information. 

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Are you that person who doesn’t take their medications as prescribed?  If so, you’re not the only one.  However, medication noncompliance is unhealthy and can become costly.  It is estimated non-adherence causes:

  • 30%-50% of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually. 
  • Increased mortality risk by 12%-25% for statins
  • Increased hospitalization risks for cardioprotective medication by 10%-40% and mortality by 50%-80%

Furthermore, it is estimated non-adherent patients will spend an additional $2000 in physician visits annually.  There are more statistics we could discuss on medication non-adherence; however, we want to know why and how we can help.

There are many reasons to why you may not be compliant with your medications.  Are you confused on how you should you take it, is it the cost of the medication, do you have side effects, do you have difficulties getting to the pharmacy, do you simply forget, etc?  Whatever the reason maybe we can assist you!  Here are some tips and tricks to staying compliant with your meds:

  • Request to enroll in the pharmacy’s medication adherence program.  Our pharmacy can synchronize all your prescriptions to be filled on the same day every month, minimizing your pharmacy trips.  Furthermore, we can sink all your family’s medications to a single pick-up date.
  • Take it along with other daily events, like brushing your teeth or with your morning coffee.  Example: put your medication bottle next to your favorite coffee cup or coffee pot.
  • Use special pill boxes that help you keep track, like the ones divided into sections for each day of the week 
  • Set an alarm on your phone; customize the setting on your alarm for repeat.
  • Keep a "medicine calendar" near your medicine and make a note every time you take your dose.
  • Talk to your pharmacist and identify if there is a generic substitute that may be cheaper
  • Utilize free delivery if you have transportation issues
  • Discuss any negative side effects with your pharmacist; there may be a substitute available that doesn’t affect you the same way.
  • Most importantly, understand your medication.  Know what it is for, how and when you should be taking it. 

Contact us with any questions you may have about medication adherence and how we can assist you! 

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It’s the holidays and for most Americans, that means eating – lots of eating – followed by weight gain and a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

But why not take a healthier approach to what we eat during this holiday season and beyond?

According to a recent website survey, about 18 percent of people say it’s hard for them to eat healthy because they don’t want to stop eating their favorite foods. The good news is you don’t have to. You can still enjoy your favorite occasional indulgences, but in moderation. It’s all about being mindful of what you eat.

Mindless Eating

Mindless eating is consuming food just because it’s there. It’s eating while distracted – watching TV, working at a computer or texting on our smartphones. It’s eating for emotional comfort instead of for hunger. Simply put, it’s not paying attention to what we eat which can lead to being overweight and even obesity.

“Mindless eating has always been an issue,” said Riska Platt, M.S., a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. “The key to mindful eating is awareness. Just by paying more attention to what you eat, you’re more likely to make beneficial changes.”

Awareness

When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can make small changes that make a big difference. Here are some tips toward a more mindful approach:

  • Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.
  • Eat when you’re hungry. Just because the clock says noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.  
  • Plan. Prepare healthy snacks throughout the day. If you tend to get hungry between meals, bring along a 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack, fiber keeps you feeling full longer.
  • Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).
  • Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
  • Use technology. As we continue to become increasingly distracted by modern technology, our focus on health can fall to the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us,” said Platt, a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”
  • Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes. “Keeping a food diary is really key to awareness,” Platt said. “Most people are surprised at all they’ve consumed when they review what they’ve eaten.”

Eating healthier is easier than you think!

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Have You Got Your Flu Shot?

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.  Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundred of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.

There a multiple types of flu vaccinations available.  Some of which include the following options:

  • Trivalent vaccine - Protects against three flu viruses, two type A viruses, and one type B virus.  
  • Quadrivalent vaccine - Protects against four flu viruses, the same three as the trivalent, plus an additional B virus.
  • High dose vaccine - A trivalent vaccine, approved for individuals 65+ with stronger dosage amounts.  
  • Preservative Free - A trivalent vaccine that is egg free.  

The CDC recommends getting your flu shot in early Fall, before the flu season begins.  It is best to get vaccinated by the end of October, but getting vaccinated later is still be beneficial.  The vaccine does take approximately two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu.  

Flu shots are available daily at the pharmacy. For additional information on this year's flu vaccine, contact our pharmacy or visit the CDC's webpage.  

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Asthma is a condition that causes people to have trouble getting enough air to their lungs.  An "asthma attack" is when you have trouble catching your breath.  Some common triggers include:

  • Dust in your house
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dirty air outside
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Hard exercise that makes you breath really fast
  • Some medicines
  • Bad weather
  • Some kinds of food

Even getting really excited, or feeling very made, sad or scared can cause an asthma attack.

Different kinds of medicine can help.  Sometimes you'll use an inhaler, a little can of special air you squirt into your mouth as you breath in.  Some contain "quick help" medicine that helps keep your asthma under control.

Your doctor can explain ore about your medications and how to use them.  Remember: It's always OK to ask questions! Your doctor and pharmacists are here to help! 

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Tips to Stay Cool

We are all looking forward to spending some much needed time outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather summer brings!  However, with that come the possibilities of danger, as the summertime heat can become brutal.  Keeping cool during summer isn’t just for comfort but also for your wellness. 

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly. Extreme heat affects everyone, but the elderly, children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors, and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk.

Follow these tips below to stay cool this summer:

1.       Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can't change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead or running, or decreasing your level of exertion.

2.       Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.

3.       Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.

4.       Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.

5.       Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.

6.       Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.

7.       Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.

8.       Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.

9.       Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.

10.   Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attaches to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.

11.   I learned this trick from a tennis pro: if you're wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.

12.   Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.

13.   Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won't have to cook next to a hot stove.

14.   If you don't have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool. Many cities have cooling centers that are open to the public on sweltering days.

15.   Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don't forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses too.

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Avoiding Sunburns

Summer is when we spend much of our time outdoors swimming, hiking, horseback riding or other activities.  But we all know sunburns can be problematic, so keep sunburns from ruining your outdoor fun with these tips!

  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before you go outside, and reapply it every hour and half to two hours.
  • Use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF, and don’t forget to apply it to all exposed skin. You can even find Chapstick to protect your lips.  They come in lots of cool flavors too!
  • Everyone loves shorts and t-shirts in summertime, but remember that the sun can burn any skin you show.  Consider wearing hats to protect your head and face, and longer sleeves to keep the sun off. 
  • Even waterproof and sweat proof sunscreen will come off eventually.  Don’t forget to reapply it!
  • Remember, the sun doesn’t have to be shining for you get sunburned.  So long as it’s daytime, you can still get burned, even if its cloudy out!
  • If you do get a burn, you can remove a lot of the pain by applying aloe vera to your burn.  Ask at any grocery store or pharmacy to find some!
  • When aloe vera isn’t enough to take out the sting, try acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve the pain.  Benadryl is another great medicine to treat sunburns.
  • If you start developing blisters, they may become infected.  Talk to your doctor about medicine that can help treat the infection.

For additional information on sunburn prevention or treatment, talk to our pharmacists.  Additional summertime savings are available in the pharmacy every month!

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May is recognized each year as National Arthritis Awareness Month. Therefore, we wanted to give you some information on Arthritis, as it is the nation’s leading cause of disabilities.

1. Arthritis is Not a Single Disease

 

Many people think that arthritis is a single disease.  Actually, there are over 100 types of arthritis and related rheumatic conditions.  It is important to be accurately diagnosed and know your type of arthritis so that you can begin an appropriate course of treatment

 

2.  No known Cure for most Types of Arthritis

Though some forms of arthritis, like Lyme arthritis, may be curable with antibiotics, there is no single medication or treatment that cures most types of arthritis. Treatment options can help manage pain, control arthritis symptoms, slow disease progression, and reduce joint damage or deformity.

3.  Rheumatologist Specialize in Diagnosis and Treatment of Rheumatic Conditions.

Your primary care doctor can refer you to a rheumatologist or you can get an appointment through self-referral if your health insurance allows it. Evaluation by a rheumatologist is important so that you can determine your type of arthritis and start a treatment plan.

4. Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis is Essential

Since there are various types of arthritis and many treatment options, it is important to be properly diagnosed and treated early in the course of the disease. Delaying diagnosis and treatment may allow arthritis symptoms to worsen. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance for preventing joint damage and disability.

5.  Finding Optimal Arthritis Treatment Requires Trial and Error

There are two important points to remember about arthritis treatment. Patients vary in their response to arthritis medications or other arthritis treatments. What works for one person may not work for another. Also, to find the safest and most effective medication or combination of medications, you'll have to weigh the benefits versus the risks.

6. Healthy Lifestyle and Good Habits Can Positively Impact Arthritis

Regular exercise, maintaining your ideal weight, stress reduction, being a non-smoker and getting good sleep are important for living well with arthritis.

7.  Myths and Misconceptions about Arthritis

Have you heard that arthritis only affects old people? Not true. Did you know that arthritis causes only minor aches and pains? Not true. Common forms of arthritis can be cured by changes in your diet? While rare forms of arthritis, such as arthropathy associated with Celiac disease, can effectively be cured with a gluten free diet, this claim is inapplicable to the vast majority of cases. These and several other examples of myths and misconceptions about arthritis, perpetuated by the spread of inaccurate information, can keep a person from managing the disease properly.

For additional information on Arthritis, contact one of our trusted pharmacists or your health care provider.

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Spring can be a tough season for lawns. Homeowners sometimes use chemicals to repair winter damage and prepare the lawn for summer's rain, drought, or heat.

Many lawn problems can be addressed by modifying the soil, growing conditions, type of grass seed, and routine care provided. If you decide to use chemicals to treat your lawn, choose only those chemicals which will treat your specific problem. Purchase only as much as you'll need. Store products safely, out of reach of children and pets.

When you use lawn care chemicals, follow label directions carefully to avoid harming yourself, children, pets – and, of course, the environment. Here is a list of common lawn products used in the spring.

Lime is used to alter the soil pH, if a soil test shows that the soil is too acidic to sustain a lawn. Lime is applied in a dry or granular form. Use it when there is no wind, as the powder can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat if it blows into your face. Be sure to keep it dry, as wet lime can burn your skin. If lime does blow into your eyes or face, brush off as much as you can. Then, immediately run a lot of water over your face and skin. A shower works well, but a hose might be handier. Then call Poison Control (800-222-1222).

Fertilizer can be irritating if it gets into your eyes, nose, or mouth. It can cause stomach upset if swallowed. Usually, there are no other problems with the types of fertilizers sold for home use. BUT – and this is a big "but" – some fertilizer products also contain weed killers and insecticides.

Herbicides, or weed killers, may contain a number of ingredients, including carbamates and glyphosate. Getting these products on the skin or in the eyes is likely to cause irritation. Inhaling them can cause lung irritation. The greatest danger is from swallowing them; this has happened when products were transferred into unlabeled containers or into beverage containers. Children and adults have been seriously poisoned in this way.

In addition to the active weed-killing ingredients, herbicides often contain ingredients intended to help them spread evenly or stick to plant leaves. These ingredients are labeled "inert" because they don't kill weeds, but they can still be harmful if swallowed or inhaled.

Insecticides may be used to kill grubs that damage grass, ticks, and fleas. Biological control agents such as nematodes are not harmful to humans. Some other types of insecticides can be absorbed through skin or inhaled; of course, they can also be swallowed if not stored safely. Poisoning symptoms could range from mild stomach upset to seizures, depending on the ingredients.

Apply insecticides on a day with no wind. Cover as much skin area as possible with long sleeves, long pants, and gloves. Be sure that children and pets aren't around.

The bottom line is that lawn care chemicals intended for homeowner use can be used safely when label directions are followed carefully and products are stored properly. To avoid skin, eye, throat, and lung irritation, use these products on days with little or no wind. Avoid the risk of swallowing them by storing these products in original, labeled containers. If they must be diluted in different containers, label those containers clearly and do NOT use them for any other purpose. Lock the products and containers up high, out of sight and reach of children and pets.

If someone gets a lawn care chemical on their skin or in their eyes, rinse with running water for 15-20 minutes. Then, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. If someone swallows one of these products, call Poison Control right away.

Feel free to call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 if you have questions about the safety of lawn care chemicals you're planning to use. Poison specialists can answer them, whether you plan to apply products yourself or have a professional lawn care company treat your lawn.

Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
Clinical Toxicologist

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