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!