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With age comes a great many things: wisdom, maturity, beauty… And also a weaker immune system! This places adults over the age of 65 at greater risk for severe complications from influenza.

Prevention is an important step to keeping healthy this flu season, and getting a flu vaccine is crucial.

 

Standard Dose

(Quadrivalent)

High Dose

(Trivalent)

Protection

2 influenza A viruses + 2 influenza B viruses (broader protection with both B viruses included in vaccine)

2 influenza A + 1 influenza B.  Contains four times the amount of antigen (prompts the body to make antibodies) contained in regular flu shots, to create a stronger immune response.

Vaccine Types

Standard shot – age 6 months and above

High-Dose shot – designed specifically for age 65 and above

Flu Season

In the US, flu activity peaks in January and February, but can begin as early as October and continue as late as May. Vaccines take 2 weeks to build immunity in the body.

Safety

Flu vaccines are safe. Vaccine viruses used are inactivated (“killed”) or weakened and CANNOT cause influenza.

Effectiveness

60% less likely to need treatment for flu after get vaccination. Also reduces other illnesses, antibiotic use, time off work, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Side Effects

Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; fever (low grade); aches

Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; fever (low grade); aches; headache; potential for increased local side effects

NOTE: Public Health experts have not recommended one type of flu vaccine more highly than another for people 65 and older. They advise getting any type of flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu.
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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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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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Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, fatigue…. These are just a few of the signs of seasonal allergies—also known as hay fever. And get ready: It looks like we may have a real doozy of an allergy season this year.  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.

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.

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.

·         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.

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.

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.Just one more reason why working with your doctor and pharmacist is a good idea.

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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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