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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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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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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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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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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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Your heart works hard for you nonstop for your whole life. So show it some TLC.  Making small changes in your habits can make a real difference to your ticker. Below are 10 helpful tips to better your heart health, but best thing is, you don't have to work on all 10 steps at once. Even if you improve just one or two of these areas, you can make yourself less likely to get heart disease. Of course, the more tips on this list you follow, the better.

1.       Aim for lucky number seven.

In one study, young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.

2.   Keep the pressure off.

If your blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue.  Cut back on salt, limit alcohol to no more than one to two drinks a day, favor healthy eating habits (think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein) manage your stress, and work out. These changes are often enough to bring your blood pressure back down into the normal range. If not, your doctor might recommend you also take medication.

3.  Slash saturated fats.

To help your heart’s arteries, cut down on saturated fats, which are mainly found in meat and full-fat dairy products. Choose leaner cuts and reduced-fat options. 

4.  Find out if you have diabetes.

Millions of people do and don’t know it. That’s risky because over time, high blood sugar damages arteries and puts you at risk for heart disease.  One simple swap is to trade processed carbs (like white rice) for fiber-rich whole grains (like brown rice). Every positive change you make in what you eat and how active you are will help. Over time, you’ll be able to do more.

5. Move more.

To keep it simple, you can aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise. That includes any activity that gets you moving around and breaking a slight sweat.  “If you're doing nothing, do something. And if you're doing something, do more," Lloyd-Jones says.  Also, pay attention to how much time you spend seated, whether it's at work, in your car, or on your couch at home. You want to cut that time down.

6.   Clean up.

Your heart works best when it runs on clean fuel. That means lots of whole, plant-based foods (like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) and fewer refined or processed foods (like white bread, pasta, crackers, and cookies).  One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice, which lacks the fiber that’s in actual fruit.

7. Think beyond the scale.

Ask your doctor if your weight is OK. If you have some pounds to lose, it’s not just about calories and exercise but think if there are events or stressors that trigger bad eating habits.

8.   Ditch the cigarettes, real and electronic.

No new news, smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for your heart.

9.   Do more of what you love.

Make it a point, too, to spend time with people you’re close to. Talk, laugh, confide, and enjoy each other. It’s good for your emotional health and your heart.

10.   Celebrate every step.

Making changes like these takes time and effort. Think progress, not perfection. And reward yourself for every positive step you take. Ask your friends and family to support you and join in, too. Your heart’s future will be better for it!

Additional heart healthy over the counter items are on sale the entire month of February.  See the reverse side for heart healthy savings.  For additional information, contact the pharmacy or your physician.

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Are you one of those guys who can’t remember the last time you stepped foot in a doctor’s office? Sure, maybe you’ve gotten in for something urgent, but what about scheduling an annual exam or screening tests? Maybe you simply forget, think you already have healthy habits, or insist that you “feel just fine.” Sorry, guys…. Not quite good enough.

Regular checkups and screening tests aren’t something you can afford to ignore. Baseline tests can help your doctor know how your health is changing over time. Plus, silent killers such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol can wreak havoc—and you wouldn’t have a clue without being tested.

Here’s a simple screening cheat sheet to make your life easier.

 

1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm. If you have ever smoked, get this ultrasound test one time between ages 65 and 75. This test will show whether or not your largest artery (abdominal aorta) is bulging. If it is, it may burst, putting you at risk for bleeding—and even death.

 

2. Blood pressure. Starting at age 18:

·         Get tested at least every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80.

·         Get tested once a year if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.

·         Discuss treatment with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

 

3. Cholesterol. From age 20 to 34, get a regular cholesterol test if you are at increased risk for heart disease. At age 35, get a regular cholesterol test. Ask your doctor how often you need to do this.

 

4. Colorectal cancer. Get screened for colorectal cancer from age 50 to 75. This screening may include one or more tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which test is best for you and how often you need it.

 

5. Depression. Ask your doctor about being screened for depression if over the past weeks:

·         You have felt sad or hopeless

·         You have lost interest or pleasure in doing the things you normally enjoy

 

6. Diabetes. Starting at age 18, get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take high blood pressure medicine.

 

7. Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Get screened once if you:

·         Were born between 1945 and 1965.

·         Have ever injected drugs.

·         Received a blood transfusion before 1992.

 

8. Lung cancer. Ask your doctor whether or not to be screened if you:

·         Are between 55 and 80.

·         Have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (This is the number of packs smoked per day times the number of years you smoked.)

·         Smoke now or quit within the past 15 years.

 

9. Overweight and obesity. This is a test you can do yourself. Find your body mass index (BMI) by entering your weight and height into an online BMI calculator.

Discuss with your doctor whether you are at increased risk for any other diseases. If so, you may need other tests.

Be honest with your health care provider and me. Be sure to let us know what worries you—whether it’s your weight, alcohol use, or challenges with anxiety. Think of us as your partners in health. We can do a much better job of helping you if we fully understand your health challenges and concerns.

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.      AHRQ: Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/healthy-men/healthy-men.html  Accessed 5-4-16.

2.      OWH: Screening tests for men. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/screening-tests-and-vaccines/screening-tests-for-men/ Accessed 5-4-16.

 

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May is the month when many women celebrate Mother’s Day. Maybe breakfast in bed, homemade cards, extra hugs….? It’s pretty wonderful to feel so cared for. But how well do you take care of yourself—whether or not you’re a mother?

                One big piece of self-care involves regular screening tests, which can prevent many health problems—or help you nip them in the bud as early as possible. Life can get hectic, though, so it’s easy to forget or to put it off. Here is a brief overview of the tests the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends for women. Remember: these are guidelines only. Talk with your doctor about your unique needs.

1. Blood pressure test. Starting at age 18:

·         Get tested at least every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80.

·         Get tested once a year if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.

·         Discuss treatment with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

2. Bone mineral density test.

·         At age 50, ask your doctor if you are at risk for bone disease (osteoporosis).

·         At age 65 or older, have at least one bone mineral density test. Ask your doctor whether you need repeat testing.

3. Breast cancer screening.

·         At age 40, discuss your risk with your doctor to decide if you need regular mammograms.

·         Starting at age 50, have a mammogram every 2 years.

·         At age 75, ask your doctor whether or not you need to be screened.

4. Cervical cancer screening.

·         Starting at age 21, get a Pap test every 3 years if you have a cervix.

·         Starting at age 30, you can get a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years if you have a cervix.

·         At age 65 or older, ask your doctor whether or not you need a Pap test.

5. Cholesterol test. Starting at age 20, get a regular cholesterol test if you are at increased risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor how often to do this.

6. Colorectal cancer screening. From age 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer. This may include one or more tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which test is best for you and how often you need it.

 7. Diabetes screening.

Starting at age 18, get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take high blood pressure medicine.


 
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