Seasonal Allergies: Trying to Nip Them in the Bud

Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, fatigue…. These are just a few of the signs of seasonal allergies—also known as hay fever.1 And get ready: It looks like we may have a real doozy of an allergy season this year.2 Milder winter temperatures in places can cause plants to pollinate early. And a rainier spring leads to quick plant growth, as well as an increase in mold. 1

Allergic reactions mostly occur when your body responds to a “false alarm.” And, as you well know, there isn’t a cure for seasonal allergies. But there’s no reason to let this time of year take all the spring out of your step! Arm yourself with information.

Monitor climate factors. When checking the weather and planning your day, keep these things in mind:

·      Heat and high humidity promote the growth of molds.

·      Cool nights and warm days allow tree, grass, and ragweed pollens to thrive.

·      In spring and summer, tree and grass pollen levels tend to peak in the evening.

·      In late summer and early fall, ragweed pollen levels tend to peak in the morning.

·      Windy and warm days often result in surging pollen counts.

·      After a rainfall, pollen counts may go up, even though the rain temporarily washes pollen away.1

Avoid your triggers. If allergies are making you miserable, you may want to see an allergist. Specializing in allergies, this person can help you figure out what triggers your symptoms. Then you can find ways to cut off those triggers at the pass. During allergy season:

·      Keep windows and doors shut in your car and home.

·      Monitor pollen and mold counts daily. Weather reporters often provide this information.

·      After working or playing outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes. 1

·      When doing chores outside, wear a NIOSH-rated filter mask. Better yet? Delegate!

·      Be on the lookout for mold, which can build up in moist months. A deep spring cleaning will help get rid of mold and other allergens. Cleanliness may not be close to godliness. But it sure may help you feel better.

·      Clear the air with a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). If you have central air, use air filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Change air filters every three months.3

Relieve your symptoms. Corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants, antihistamines. These are examples of over-the-counter drugs that can help relieve your symptoms. Come talk to me to make sure you’re using them the right way. If side effects are a problem, we can work together to come up with a solution. For example, a few possible side effects of antihistamines are sleepiness, dry mouth, constipation, and light-headedness.4

For some people, allergies can lead to or coexist with other health problems such as asthma or sinusitis. Asthma narrows or blocks the airways. Sinusitis is caused by inflammation or infection of cavities behind the nose.5 Just one more reason why working with your doctor and me is a good idea.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

1.     ACAAI: “Seasonal Allergies.” Available at: http://acaai.org/allergies/seasonal-allergies Accessed 3-3-17.

2.     ABC30.com: “Seasonal allergy sufferers feeling the change in weather.” Available at: http://abc30.com/health/seasonal-allergy-sufferers-feeling-the-change-in-weather/1780067/ Accessed 3-3-17.

3.     ACAAI: “5 things to Do to Fell Better During Spring Allergy Season.” Available at: http://acaai.org/news/5-things-do-feel-better-during-spring-allergy-season Accessed: 2-23-17.

4.     Merck Manual: “Seasonal Allergies.” Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/immune-disorders/allergic-reactions-and-other-hypersensitivity-disorders/seasonal-allergies Accessed 3-3-17.

5.     NIHMedlinePlus: “How to Control Your Seasonal Allergies.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/spring13/articles/spring13pg22-23.html Accessed 3-3-17.


 

Managing Diabetes Medications

It’s not the kind of club you really want to belong to. Today, nearly half of all American adults have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of getting it.1

If you count yourself among them, you know that managing your diabetes medications is something you can’t afford to ignore. If not well managed, diabetes can lead to serious complications. They include cardiovascular disease; nerve, kidney, eye, and foot damage; and hearing problems.2

Recent research. A study of 350,000 people with type 2 diabetes found that people with poorly managed diabetes were also 50 percent more likely to have dementia.3 Other recent studies have found that diabetes appears to take a particular toll on women’s hearts. Looking at nearly 11 million people, one study found the risk was almost 40 percent higher in women than in men.4

Whether woman or man, however, staying on top of medication management clearly needs to be top of mind.

Types of medications. As you likely know, managing blood sugar (glucose) is at the heart of diabetes control. If you can’t get the job done with diet and exercise alone, medications are essential. The drugs you take will depend upon the type of diabetes you have, along with other factors.5

Insulin moves glucose from your blood into your cells. This helps keep glucose in the right range. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin, you will need to take it by injection, pen, pump, jet injector, or infuser.5

There are also many types of diabetes pills, which work in different ways. For example, they may:

·      Decrease the glucose released from your liver

·      Stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin

·      Make your body more sensitive to the effects of insulin

·      Slow absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream after eating6

Some people take more than one pill, a combination pill, or a combination of pills and insulin. There are also new types of injected medicines available to keep blood sugar from going too high after eating.5

Medication review.  Be sure to follow your treatment plan, but let your doctor know if you experience any side effects. If you’re a senior, this is more important than ever. Your body responds differently to drugs as you age. This means you’re at greater risk of overtreatment, which can cause blood sugar levels to go too low. And this can cause problems such as confusion or falls. 7

You may need to cut back or change medications. Just because a drug worked well for you in the past doesn’t mean it will continue to do so. If you have questions about this, I can go over your list of medications and see how they are working for you. Also, be sure to check in at least once a year with your doctor about your diabetes medications. Never stop or change your medications without first talking it over with your doctor.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

It’s not the kind of club you really want to belong to. Today, nearly half of all American adults have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of getting it.1

If you count yourself among them, you know that managing your diabetes medications is something you can’t afford to ignore. If not well managed, diabetes can lead to serious complications. They include cardiovascular disease; nerve, kidney, eye, and foot damage; and hearing problems.2

Recent research. A study of 350,000 people with type 2 diabetes found that people with poorly managed diabetes were also 50 percent more likely to have dementia.3 Other recent studies have found that diabetes appears to take a particular toll on women’s hearts. Looking at nearly 11 million people, one study found the risk was almost 40 percent higher in women than in men.4

Whether woman or man, however, staying on top of medication management clearly needs to be top of mind.

Types of medications. As you likely know, managing blood sugar (glucose) is at the heart of diabetes control. If you can’t get the job done with diet and exercise alone, medications are essential. The drugs you take will depend upon the type of diabetes you have, along with other factors.5

Insulin moves glucose from your blood into your cells. This helps keep glucose in the right range. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin, you will need to take it by injection, pen, pump, jet injector, or infuser.5

There are also many types of diabetes pills, which work in different ways. For example, they may:

·      Decrease the glucose released from your liver

·      Stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin

·      Make your body more sensitive to the effects of insulin

·      Slow absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream after eating6

Some people take more than one pill, a combination pill, or a combination of pills and insulin. There are also new types of injected medicines available to keep blood sugar from going too high after eating.5

Medication review.  Be sure to follow your treatment plan, but let your doctor know if you experience any side effects. If you’re a senior, this is more important than ever. Your body responds differently to drugs as you age. This means you’re at greater risk of overtreatment, which can cause blood sugar levels to go too low. And this can cause problems such as confusion or falls. 7

You may need to cut back or change medications. Just because a drug worked well for you in the past doesn’t mean it will continue to do so. If you have questions about this, I can go over your list of medications and see how they are working for you. Also, be sure to check in at least once a year with your doctor about your diabetes medications. Never stop or change your medications without first talking it over with your doctor.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

1.     HealthDay: Half of U.S. Adults Have Diabetes or High Risk of Getting It: Report. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_154517.html Accessed 11-3-15.

2.     Mayo Clinic: “Complications.” Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/complications/con-20033091. Accessed 11-5-15.
3.     HealthDay: Tight Control of Type 2 Diabetes May Help Prevent Dementia. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_154639.html Accessed 11-3-15.
4.     HealthDay: Diabetes Takes a Toll on Women’s Hearts. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_154609.html Accessed 11-3-15.
5.     NIDDK: “What I need to know about Diabetes Medicines.” Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/diabetes-medicines/Pages/index.aspx#what Accessed 11-5-15.
6.     Joslin Diabetes Center: “Oral Diabetes Medications Summary Chart.” Available at: http://www.joslin.org/info/oral_diabetes_medications_summary_chart.html Accessed 11-5-15.
7.     HealthDay: Too Many Seniors With Diabetes Are Overtreated, Study Suggests. Available at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155428.html   Accessed 11-3-15.
 
 
 

 

5 End-of Year Tips from Your Pharmacist

As the days keep getting shorter, does it feel as though there are fewer than 24 hours in a day? With the holidays right on the horizon, there¹s so much to think about and so much to do. Here are a few end-of-year reminders to make sure your health‹and your pocketbook ‹doesn't get the short end of the stick.

1. Get your flu shot. If you're like many people, getting a flu vaccination can easily slip your mind. But a flu shot is too important to get bumped to the bottom of your priority list. Every flu season is different, and every person responds to the flu in a different way. The flu can lead to hospitalizations and even death. The flu season often begins in October, so there's no better time than the present.

2. Plan for Medicare open enrollment. Every year, the open enrollment for Medicare is October 15 through December 7. This is when you can change your health plan and prescription drug coverage. You can get more information here: Call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to www.medicare.gov. You'll find a wealth of resources to help you compare hospitals, doctors, drug plans, and other health care services. But if you need more help making comparisons and choices, we can help. Just ask.

3. Switch to generics. Generic medications are identical to brand-name drugs in dosage, form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance traits, and intended use. Here¹s how they¹re different: They¹re usually much less expensive than brand-name drugs. Not all medications have a generic equivalent for a brand-name drug. One way to find out is to go to Drugs.com. Or, we can also talk this over.

Switching to a generic medication might put a few (maybe more than a few) extra dollars back in your pocket. Wouldn't it be nice to have a little extra money for the holidays‹or to use however you choose?

4. Use or lose it. Do you have a flexible spending account (FSA)? This is a special account you put money into to pay certain out-of-pocket health costs. That might include copayments, deductibles, drugs, and other health care costs. Limited to $2,550 each year, this money is not taxable.4

If you have an FSA, now is the time to use up your health benefit dollars‹or you¹ll lose them! Schedule eye or medical checkups before the end of the year. Some employers make allowances, though. So check to see if you have a grace period for using up the money or if you can carry over a limited amount of funds to the next year.

5. Schedule a "tune-up."  Why not schedule a meeting with me to see if your medications are working as well as they can for you? We can help you come up with ways to remember to take your drugs and to order refills‹before you run out. Not happy with your drug¹s side effects? Both your doctor and I can work with you to adjust your dose or to find a substitute. There¹s no need for you to suffer in silence.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

 

 

More Options for Cholesterol Control

There’s more than one way to tackle the risk of high cholesterol. That’s a type of fat that can clog up your arteries and block blood flow.1

Check it out. Without being tested, though, you can’t be certain about your risk. Yes, you might be in good company being in the dark: For example, nearly half of Hispanics in the U.S. who have high blood pressure are unaware of it.2 But, no, ignorance is not bliss.

If you haven’t had a recent cholesterol test, why not schedule one now? You can do it in honor of National Cholesterol Education Month. In the meantime, check out a few new findings about cholesterol control.

Fitness pays off. You probably already know that eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol. Likewise, being overweight can lower your levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol. But did you know that being inactive could literally be the “kiss of death?”1

            Exercise can lower risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stress. Now, a long-term fitness study shows that fitness may delay normal age-related increases in cholesterol levels by up to 15 years!3 The study ran from 1970 to 2006 and included just over 11,400 men, aged 20 to 90. Although the study included only men, the researchers believe results would be similar for women.

Drugs tough on LDL. There’s another new kid on the cholesterol-control block. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved alirocumab (Praluent)—the first in a new class of injected cholesterol-lowering drugs.4

The FDA approved Praluent for patients with heart disease and a history of heart attack or stroke and patients who have inherited a family condition causing high levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. By the time you read this, the FDA may have approved another in this class— evolocumab (Repatha).4

            These drugs work by blocking a protein in the liver that helps regulate LDL. They can cut levels of LDL by nearly 50 percent. Early short-term research shows they may also cut the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease in half.4 Longer clinical studies are needed to confirm the results of these early studies.

Another big wild card? Cost. This class of drugs is expensive to make. It could cost each patient as much as $12,000 a year.4 Still, it’s encouraging to have options for people who don’t get the results they need with statins.

If you already take cholesterol-lowering medications, be sure to take them exactly as your doctor directs. As you well know, I can be your go-to person for any questions you may have.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources
WebMD: Available at: . http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/tc/high-cholesterol-overview Accessed Accessed 8-4-15.

HealthDay: “Half of U.S. Hispanics With High Cholesterol Unaware They Have It: Study.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_153245.html Accessed 8-4-15.

HealthDay: “Staying Fit May Delay Onset of High Cholesterol, Study Finds.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_152470.html Accessed 8-4-15.

HealthDay: “FDA Oks First of New Class of Cholesterol Drugs.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_153763.html Accessed 8-4-15.

When Drugs Deplete Nutrients

Medications can be life saving. But take heed: They can also rob your body of nutrients you need.
 Nutrient loss can happen in many ways. For example, a medication may:
·      Depress your appetite, which means you may not eat enough to stay nourished.
·      Increase your desire for less healthy foods, such as lots of sugar, bread, or pasta.
·      Reduce absorption of certain nutrients in the “gut,” especially in seniors.
·      Block a nutrient’s effects at the level of the cell.
·      Increase loss of nutrients through your urinary system.1
Symptoms of nutrient loss may come on gradually and look a lot like symptoms of aging, disease, or changes in mood—so it’s easy to get caught off guard. For example, pain, numbness, or tingling in legs may be a vitamin B12 deficiency. Or a magnesium deficiency may cause muscle pain and stiffness. Over time, this deficiency may even contribute to bone disease (osteoporosis).2
Which drugs are the most common culprits? Here’s a brief summary for you.
Acid blockers. If you have heartburn, reflux, or peptic ulcers, your doctor may prescribe an antacid, H2 blocker, or proton-pump inhibitor (PPI). Studies show these drugs may cause many nutrient deficiencies. They can interfere with the breakdown of food or absorption of nutrients. You may lack B12, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, chromium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
Antibiotics. These drugs are big robbers of a wide range of nutrients. They also kill “good” bacteria in your digestive system. For these reasons, it may be a good idea to take a B vitamin complex or a multivitamin that contains B vitamins—as well as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. You might also consider probiotics and vitamin K—normally made by those “friendly” bacteria.
Anti-convulsants. Seizure medication can cause low levels of vitamin D.
Anti-hypertensives. Diuretics are great at helping to prevent heart attacks in high-risk people. But they may deplete magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, pyridoxine, thiamine, and ascorbic acid.
Beta blockers also are great at lowering blood pressure. However, they can deplete CoQ10. This can be very dangerous. The heart needs a rich supply of this nutrient for the energy “factories” of its cells.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs. When it comes to high cholesterol, statins are practically a household name. That’s because doctors widely prescribe them. But statins also deplete CoQ10—which is serious.
Hypoglycemics (oral). Drugs like metformin help make insulin work better in people with diabetes. But they can reduce levels of B12 by half. They also can deplete folic acid and CoQ10.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Used for menopausal symptoms, HRT may deplete vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, and magnesium—critical for not only heart health but also mood. Still moody on HRT? A supplement might make more sense than an antidepressant.
Nearly 50 percent of Americans regularly takes a prescription drug. And medication-related loss of nutrients is more common than many realize. Just to be safe, let’s look over your list of medications and make sure you’re not coming up short.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition

Sources:
1.     Nutrition Review: A Practical Guide to Avoiding Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion. Available at: http://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/practical-guide-avoiding-drug-induced-nutrient-depletion/ Accessed June 4, 2015.
2.     American Chiropractic Association: Pay Attention to Medications, Nutrition When Treating Elderly. Available at: https://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=1357 Accessed June 5, 2015.

3.     Chiro.org: Recognizing Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion in Chiropractic Practice. Available at http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Recognizing_Drug_Induced_Nutrient_Depletion.shtml Accessed June 5, 2015. Av

Why Childhood Vaccines Are Essential

Have you decided not to vaccinate your child? Are you concerned about vaccine safety? Do you think diseases like measles and whooping cough are problems of the past? Please think again.
When you don’t vaccinate, it may affect both your child and the whole community. Here’s one example: As of May 29, 173 people in 21 states and Washington DC became sick with measles. The infection was traced back to Disneyland in California.More than 80 percent of these people had not had vaccines or had no proof of vaccination.2
Here’s another: In 2012, nearly 50,000 cases of whooping cough were reported. That’s the biggest number in more than 50 years.3
Herd immunity. Vaccines contain weak or dead versions of foreign substances. They make the immune system create antibodies to fight disease.4 This not only protects your child. It also provides “herd immunity.” It protects other children and adults from serious infections—especially those too young or too sick to be vaccinated.1
In the last 20 years, vaccines:
·       Saved more than 732,000 American lives.
·       Prevented 322 million illnesses.
·       Prevented 21 million hospital visits.
·       Saved $295 billion.3
Most U.S. kids are up to date with their vaccines. These are for diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and chickenpox. But coverage varies from state to state. In 2013, for example, fewer than 90 percent of 1.5- to 3-year-olds in 17 states had received their first dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. And nationally, the numbers being vaccinated may also be dipping slightly.1
            Safety first. One reason for this is that parents worry about the safety of vaccines. For example, some believe that the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism. But study after study has found no link between the two. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded firmly that a vaccine preservative does notcause autism.3
Researchers have also shown that vaccine schedules are generally safe and effective.5 They work in 85 to 99 percent of cases if you vaccinate before your child becomes sick.3
It is true that vaccines can cause temporary side effects such as:
·       Redness and swelling at the injection site
·       Fever
·       Soreness where the shot was given3
But, the risk of serious problems for most people is extremely small. Let the doctor know, though, if your child has a serious reaction—or a history of one—or has a history of allergies to food or medication. You can discuss whether or not to go ahead with more shots.3,4
            Vaccine schedules. Do you have questions about your child’s vaccine schedule? Or do you need to get caught up? I can point you in the right direction. For example, you can get a copy of current vaccine schedules from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition

Got more questions? Ask Dr. Laura at laura-cudd@asburypharmacy.com



Sources:
1.     Health Day: Doctors Worry About Return of Vaccine-Preventable Ills in Kids. Available at:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_153051.html. Accessed July 3, 2015.
2.     Health Day: Infectious-Disease Expert Debunks Common Vaccine Myths. Available at:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_152498.html. Accessed July 3, 2015.
3.     Nemours Foundation: Frequently Asked Questions About Immunizations. Available at:http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/fact_myth_immunizations.html. Accessed July 3, 2015.
4.     FamilyDoctor.org: Childhood Vaccines: What They Are and Why Your Child Needs Them. Available at:http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/kids/vaccines/childhood-vaccines-what-they-are-and-why-your-child-needs-them.printerview.all.htmlAccessed July 3, 2015.
5.     Health Day: Another Study Finds No Vaccine-Autism Link. Available at:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_152129.html. Accessed July 3, 2015.