Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Smoking- Let's Snuff It Out For Good!

When I was growing up in the 60s, over 40% of all adults smoked tobacco in the US, and almost everyone on TV and in the movies. Since then, smoking has taken a well-deserved hit in popularity, with rates continuing to decline to the present average of 16% of adults who smoke in the US.
Unfortunately, Indiana ranks in the top 10 of the Highest Smoking States! Almost 25% of Hoosiers smoke. This column is dedicated to help motivate someone to quit, or to encourage your teens to never, ever start!

The Addiction Factor
90% of all adult smokers start in their teens. Signs of addiction to nicotine appear just days or weeks after smoking the occasional cigarette, way before daily smoking begins. Teens often say “I can quit anytime”, but the facts prove this wrong.  Almost half of teen smokers will try to quit before they reach adulthood but very few will succeed.  3 out of 4 will keep smoking into adulthood, even though they want to quit!

The Disease Factor
Smoking harms every organ of your body, causing a 25 times increased risk of developing lung cancer, and actively damages blood vessels, causing higher rates of heart attacks and stroke.  We now know that smoking causes diabetes as well!   

Within 5 years of smoking, lung capacity is measurably reduced, with the lung function of a smoker decreased 25% by age 45 and 50% by age 60.  In fact, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Smoking causes more deaths than illegal drugs, HIV, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries and firearm injuries put together! 

The Vaping Factor
Although we do not yet have in-depth knowledge about how vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, affects health, we do know that e-cigarettes contain the addictive substance nicotine, and teens who vape are much more likely to become smokers than non-vapers.  We also know e-cigarette vapors contain toxins like formaldehyde, although in lower levels than regular cigarettes.

The Quitting Factor
Quitting smoking starts your body on a path to recovery in lung function, healthier blood vessels and decreased risk for cancer soon after you stop. It will not be easy- smoking is an addiction and like recovery from any drug addiction, it might be the hardest thing you ever do, and the most satisfying. There are many places to get help. Ask your doctor or start here: or here:

The average person tries to quit 8 to 11 times before they are successful, and the chance of success increases with each try.  The majority- 80 to 90%- of those who quit for good, go "cold turkey" (with a lot of support from others in their lives) but other effective ways for certain people include nicotine replacement, hypnotherapy, or counseling.  It is never too late to quit!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dangerous Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluids than it is taking in.  Dehydration is most commonly caused from diarrhea and vomiting. Other common causes are prescription drug side-effects, uncontrolled diabetes, or not drinking enough when exercising or in hot weather.

Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, thirst, dark-colored urine, dizziness, and weakness. Dehydrated infants and children can have sunken eyes and cheeks, no tears while crying, or no wet diapers in three hours.

Dehydration can be dangerous
Dehydration can affect all people, but is especially dangerous for young children, the elderly and people with diabetes. Dehydration caused by diarrhea killed about 2.2 million children in 2014, making it one of the biggest causes of death for children in the modern world. The elderly may be at risk for chronic dehydration, with gradually increasing health problems.  Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to dehydration and extremely high blood sugar levels, especially during illness. These can all be life-threatening conditions so it is important to know what steps to take. 

Treatment choices
Electrolyte liquids (like Pedialyte) are good choices for adults as well as children when recovering from illness.  These help replace fluids and electrolytes (small amounts of minerals which are critical to most bodily functions) in a balanced way. Taking in water, sports drinks, or broths will help replace fluids, but will not provide balanced electrolytes.  The extra sugar in sweet drinks like juice or pop could also cause diarrhea to worsen.

To replace fluids after illness, try giving one teaspoon of liquid every 5 minutes after vomiting has stopped.  Increase amounts as tolerated, until younger children can take in 1/4 to 1/2 cup per hour and older children/adults are able to drink 1/2 to 1 cup every hour.

The elderly or their caretakers should do everything they can to help ensure adequate intake of fluids.  Five (5) 8 ounce cups of fluids should be considered a minimum amount needed daily.

People with diabetes can avoid dehydration by checking their blood sugars regularly, especially when ill.  If the numbers seem too high, they should contact their doctor for further instructions.

When to get help
If a child or adult has had vomiting or diarrhea for over 24 hours, has bloody or black stool, or is extremely weak or dizzy, it is recommended that they be seen by a family doctor or the emergency department.  Feel free to ask your friendly neighborhood pharmacists at Topeka Pharmacy for help and advice. Together, we can keep our community healthy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Homeopathic Remedies

Have you ever used “Rhus tox” (poison oak) for joint stiffness? Or “teething tablets” for a child’s toothache? If so, you have used a homeopathic remedy! This column looks at the differences between homeopathic remedies and other over-the-counter medicines to help you make decisions about your health.

What are Homeopathic Remedies?
In the 1700’s, people would use things from plants, animals, and minerals, such as crushed whole bees, dried stinging nettle, or pollen, to treat illnesses. Such ingredients have continued to be used until this day and are called homeopathic remedies. Today, there are many other over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, antihistamines, and cough syrups, available to treat simple illnesses, but some people still use homeopathic remedies. 

Over-the-Counter Medicine versus Homeopathic Remedies
Over-the-counter medications are made for people to use without the help of a doctor when they are sick. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure over-the-counter medications are safe and work for people. Homeopathic remedies are not held to the same standards as other over-the-counter medications. Because they do not have to prove to the FDA they are safe or work in order to be sold to the public, users are at risk of side effects and could experience worse outcomes such as being hospitalized. Caution is recommended when using homeopathic remedies because of limited proof of safety and proof they work.

Example of Trouble with Homeopathic Remedies
Like any drug, dietary supplement, or over-the-counter medicine, homeopathic remedies can have side effects or drug interactions. Baby teething tablets, such as Hyland’s Teething Tablets, were a common homeopathic remedy sold in the pharmacy. For the safety of the children, these tablets were taken off of the pharmacy shelves recently because of reports of irritability, extreme sleepiness, shortness of breath and, in extreme cases, seizures and death linked to taking teething tablets. 

What is Being Done
The FDA is now working on requiring the makers of homeopathic remedies to give proof that the products are safe and work for the general public. By doing this, homeopathic remedies that cannot prove they are safe and work will no longer be sold. 

How YOUR Local Pharmacy Can Help
From homeopathic remedies to over-the-counter medications and more, we at Topeka Pharmacy are happy to help guide you to a safe over-the-counter medication that works. You and your family’s health matter most to us, and we are more than willing to lend a hand in ensuring your health and safety!