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  • Flu Vaccines: Everything You Need to Know

    Flu season is almost here and let’s face it — no one has time for sniffles and coughs. Save yourself the time and suffering. You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love from influenza and as your trusted health resource, we are here to help you do just that. Here is everything you need to know about getting vaccinated against the flu: How do flu vaccines work? Vaccines train our immune systems to create proteins called antibodies, which are responsible for fighting diseases in our bodies.¹ When we get the flu vaccine, our bodies are exposed to a version of the flu that has been already killed or weakened. This helps our immune system create antibodies to fight the flu without getting sick. Once the body processes the vaccine and produces antibodies, it also creates antibody-producing memory cells, which remain alive even after the flu is defeated. If the body is exposed again, the antibody response is faster and more effective than the first time around because the memory cells are ready to pump out antibodies in defense.¹ Getting vaccinated for the flu goes far beyond just protecting yourself. Vaccinations work at their best when we develop herd immunity. This is when many people within a community are vaccinated, lessening the flu’s spread and preventing people that are unable to vaccinate from getting sick.¹ The more people get vaccinated, the more we can keep our communities healthy. How effective are flu vaccines? Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by up to 60%, however, how well the flu vaccines protect us against the flu varies from season to season. Protection not only varies depending on characteristics of the person getting vaccinated such as age and overall health.² The effectiveness of flu vaccines each year heavily depends on how well they match with the flu viruses spreading throughout the community.³ Flu viruses change quickly, meaning the vaccine created for last year’s virus may not protect you from the flu viruses this year. The more the flu vaccine matches circulating flu viruses, the better protection we have against getting the flu. If you still get sick even if you received a flu vaccine, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity of the virus. For example, a 2021 study found that vaccinated adults hospitalized with the flu had a 26% lower risk of being admitted to intensive care units and a 31% lower risk of death compares to unvaccinated adults.² Who should get the flu vaccine? Annual flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months or older, but vaccinations are especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications:⁴ Children ages 6 months – 2 years old Adults older than age 50 Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities People who are pregnant or plan to be pregnant People with weakened immune systems People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher While everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine, there are some rare exceptions:⁵ Children younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu shot. People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins) should not get that vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients. People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of influenza vaccine should not get that flu vaccine again and might not be able to receive other influenza vaccines. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to an influenza vaccine in the past, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider to help determine whether vaccination is appropriate for you. When should you get your flu shot? In the United States, flu season is in the fall and winter. However, influenza viruses are still present and circulating year-round. Flu cases generally peak between December and February and sometimes linger as late as May. With this in mind, flu vaccination is ideal during September or October.⁴ Vaccinating sooner could lead to waning efficacy near the end of flu season in spring. However, don’t wait too long to get your flu shot either as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to fully protect against the flu.³ We highly encourage you to talk with our team or your healthcare provider about any additional questions or concerns you may have about flu vaccines. You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love from influenza by getting your annual flu shot! Sources:

  • Myths About Medications

    With so many available resources online now, misconceptions about medications are becoming more and more common. But taking medication can be an important part of your overall health, and having the correct information is extremely important to keep you safe and healthy. Here are some of the top myths about medications, and the facts that debunk these myths: Myth: You feel better, so you don’t need to take your medication. Fact: Your doctor prescribed you medication because you need it. If you stop taking your medication early, it can increase your chance of relapsing into the illness that medication is prescribed for. Especially with antibiotics, it’s tempting to stop taking them as soon as you feel better. But you need to take the full treatment to kill the disease-causing bacteria. If you stop taking it, it can also promote the spread of the antibiotic-resistant properties among harmful bacteria.1 If you are taking a maintenance medication, it’s very important you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you change your medication regimen. Myth: Natural supplements are always a safe choice. Fact: “Natural” doesn’t always mean “safe.” Since the standards for supplements are not as strict, the amount of each ingredient can vary between products. If you’re interested in natural supplements, it’s important you still talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which ones are safe for you to use. Your pharmacist will be able to look at all your medications and be able to recommend which supplements will best fit into your regimen.2 Myth: If you’re really hurting, you can ignore the recommended dosage and take more pills. Fact: If you take more than the recommended dosage on the label, it can hurt you. Pharmaceutical companies and doctors work hard to develop the appropriate dose for every person. Taking your pills in any other way than the recommended amount can do more harm than good. Taking more pills or more frequently than the label states can rob you of the medicine’s benefits and increase the risk of serious side effects. Also, it is very possible that an overdose can occur which can have dangerous or even life-threatening consequences. It’s important to read every label or talk to your pharmacist to be clear on your recommended dosage.2 Myth: Antibiotics are always the answer. Fact: Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections such as strep throat, not infections caused by viruses such as acute respiratory infections. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can cause antibiotics to lose its strength and ability to effectively treat bacterial infections going forward.3 Myth: Your healthcare providers don’t need to know what vitamins you take. Fact: Health care professionals should know every medication, prescribed or OTC, you take regularly so that they can warn you about potential interactions. Examples of vitamins with the potential for serious interactions include vitamins A and E, which increase the effects of anticoagulation and should therefore be closely monitored when taking warfarin, and magnesium, which can decrease antibiotic absorption and should be dosed separately by 2 hours before or 6 hours after taking an antibiotic.3 Myth: It doesn’t matter how you ingest the pill. Fact: Taking pills with any other liquid than water – particularly alcohol – can interfere with the manner in which the body absorbs the medication. Also, some medications must be taken with food, which others may have strange or dangerous interactions with certain foods.3 Talk with your pharmacist on drug administration instructions for proper absorption. Myth: It doesn’t matter where you store your medications. Fact: Some medications lose their effectiveness when they are exposed to hot, humid environments. Medications are almost always best stored in a dry place away from heat, direct light, or any source of dampness. If children are around, keep medicine containers out of reach. Some medicines have bright colors and shapes that children can mistake as candy. Managing medications can be complicated, especially if you are taking several. It’s important to understand your regimen, talk thoroughly with your pharmacist, keep up to date on refills, and take medications as prescribed. If you are unsure about any of the medications you are currently taking or plan on taking, it’s always a good idea to talk to your provider or pharmacist about it first. With proper administration and storage, your medication regimen should help you feel your very best! Sources,to%20start%20treatment%20again%20later.

  • Top 7 Chronic Diseases in America

    It is likely that you or someone you know has suffered from some type of chronic disease. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, or cancer, are more common than one might think and are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. (1) (image from source 1) What is Chronic Disease? Chronic disease is defined as a condition that lasts 1 year or longer and requires ongoing medical attention, limits daily activities and living, or both. (2) They can affect any part of the body and may or may not be curable (4). In the United States, 6 in 10 adults have some type of chronic disease, and 4 in 10 adults have two or more chronic diseases. Some of the most common chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability and are the leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs. (2) Many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors, but can also result from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors. (3) Other risk factors include raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia. Here are some of the most common lifestyle risks: (1) Tobacco use & exposure to secondhand smoke (2): Using tobacco or being exposed to secondhand smoke increases your risk of poor health and chronic disease. Poor nutrition: Having a well-rounded diet and drinking plenty of water is key to keeping yourself healthy. Lack of physical activity: Staying active is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Excessive alcohol use: This includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and using alcohol while pregnant. Most Common Chronic Diseases In the United States, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability. Knowing the top offenders can help you understand if you may be at risk, allow time to get an early diagnosis, and start to manage the disease. Here are seven of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Heart Disease This chronic disease includes many different heart conditions, the most common being heart attacks. Heart disease can affect any part of the heart and can result from a number of reasons. Although this disease is thought of typically only affecting men, it is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Cancer Cancer occurs when cells become damaged and begin to reproduce rapidly, creating a tumor that can spread to other parts of the body. It can affect any part of the body and comes in many forms. Chronic Lung Disease Also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this covers a wide range of conditions affecting the lungs. Breathing becomes more difficult as the airflow to the lungs is restricted. Nearly 16 million Americans have some form of chronic lung disease. (4) Stroke A stroke occurs when blood is blocked from reaching the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Affecting nearly 800,000 people each year, around 150,000 of them will die, making stroke the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. (4) Alzheimer’s Disease A disorder of the brain, Alzheimer’s disease is progressive and worsens over time. Patients generally only live an average of eight years after diagnosis, making this the sixth leading cause of death in the Unites States. (4) Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, strange behavior, disorientation, poor judgement, and more. Diabetes This chronic disease happens when there is consistently too much glucose in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar levels which may lead to even more health issues. Type 1 diabetes is genetic and can be passed down to offspring, while type 2 diabetes is developed over time through poor diet, especially from consuming too much sugar. Chronic Kidney Disease When kidneys are damaged, they are unable to filter your blood correctly, leading to kidney disease. Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and urination frequency. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek medical attention to check for indicators of chronic illness. (4) Prevention & Control Early identification of a chronic disease is crucial to ensure you get the maximum support. It is also important to follow these seven steps to help reduce the risk of chronic disease and manage current chronic diseases. (5) Managing your blood pressure. A major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions is having high blood pressure. Understanding what high blood pressure is, what it looks like, and how it can affect your body and heart will help you stay healthier and prevent you from a possible heart attack or stroke. Controlling your cholesterol. Having high cholesterol increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Talk with one of our pharmacists about what high cholesterol is and what your cholesterol levels mean. We can give you tips on how to improve your levels. Reducing blood glucose levels. High levels of blood glucose can lead to diabetes. Gaining a better understanding of what raises your glucose levels, such as what foods you should or should not eat, can help manage your sugar intake. Watching what you eat is an important step towards eating healthier and living a healthy lifestyle. Getting active. About 80 percent of adults and adolescents in the United States do not get as much physical activity as they should. While it may be hard for some to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives, it is important to get at least 150 minutes per week. (5) Being physically active, even if it’s taking a short walk or doing yoga, can significantly improve your quality of life. Staying active can help with heart health, improve thinking skills, control weight, and boost energy levels. (6) Eating healthier. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent and manage chronic disease. Making simple changes to your diet, such as consuming less sodium and sugar, can help prevent high blood pressure and lower your glucose levels. Losing weight. Having a high body mass index can lead to increased risk of chronic disease. Taking steps to lose weight through diet and exercise can make a huge difference in your overall health, even if it is only a 5 percent weight loss. Stop smoking. Smoking cigarettes rapidly increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, which may lead to other chronic diseases. Many individuals turn to electronic cigarettes or vapes, but these often contain harmful chemicals. Chronic Diseases can be difficult to understand and manage, especially if you or a loved one was recently diagnosed. Living a healthy lifestyle and knowing the risks can be beneficial to understanding the condition and learning how to manage it. Sources: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

  • Combating 7 of the Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies

    For most, having a healthy lifestyle is a top priority. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are often the first things people think of when looking to make positive lifestyle changes. However, many people who are active and eat well can still be missing out on certain nutrients without realizing it. Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion While we take prescription medications to improve health, many medications (prescription and over-the-counter) can also deplete the body of essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes the body needs to function optimally. This depletion in nutrients is more specifically a result of drug-nutrient interactions that influence food intake, nutrient digestion, absorption, distribution, metabolism, and much more.¹ Some medications interfere with the absorption of nutrients, others lead to increased excretion of nutrients, and some block the body’s production of certain nutrients. The list goes on. Eventually, these nutritional deficiencies can become significant and cause severe side effects, especially when the medications are taken for long periods as nutrient deficiencies tend to develop gradually over time.² How to Avoid Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion With America’s increasing reliance on prescription medications (50% of adults regularly take one prescription medication and 20% take three or more), avoiding nutrient depletion can be difficult, but it’s possible.¹ The best way to avoid drug induced nutrient depletion is to talk with your pharmacist. Be honest about what side effects you are experiencing and ask them to review which nutrients might be depleted by your regimen. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist about what supplements may be right for you, or if your regimen can be modified to reduce your risk. Common Nutrient Deficiencies and How to Avoid Them To make up for nutrient deficiencies, there are many over-the-counter vitamin and supplements options — so many that it can be hard to figure out which ones could benefit you. Choosing the vitamins and supplements that are right for your body and lifestyle can be overwhelming, but educating yourself on the nutrient effects from your current medication regimen and learning about the most common nutrient supplement options and their properties can help to alleviate this stress. 1. Iron Iron is crucial for growth and development, increased energy, better brain function, and healthy red blood cells.³ If you typically incorporate red meats in your diet, you should get enough iron. However, the amount of iron you need may increase during times of rapid growth and development, like puberty and pregnancy.³ Vegetarians and vegans may also need more iron if they are not incorporating plant-based iron-rich foods like white beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, and nuts.⁴ 2. Vitamin D Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is vital for our bone health. But don’t we get Vitamin D from the sun? Yes, we do, however, more than 40 percent of Americans don’t spend enough time in the sun each day to achieve this. Vitamin D intake is also diminished by wearing sunscreen, taking anticonvulsants, and it is not commonly found in food.³ Consult your doctor or pharmacist today about whether you should add a Vitamin D supplement to your daily regimen. 3. Vitamin B12 A B-complex vitamin is made up of eight different B vitamins, most notably vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 creates and sustains your energy supply by breaking down foods and identifying the micronutrients your body needs. Vegans and vegetarians are most susceptible to vitamin B-12 deficiency because many B vitamins are found in animal products.³ Vitamin B-12 deficiency is prevalent in those that have metabolic abnormalities like type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. Additionally, B-12 deficiency is also associated with gestational diabetes.⁴ If you are at risk, consult with your doctor of pharmacist about incorporating a B-12 supplement and/or modifying your diet to include more B-12 rich foods. 4. Calcium Calcium is a mineral necessary for fortifying bones and teeth. As individuals age, their bone density decreases, making supplement with calcium crucial for bone health. However, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population does not consume enough calcium in their diet.³ If your diet is not rich in dairy, broccoli, nuts, and beans, it is recommended to incorporate a calcium supplement in your daily regimen. Note: For patients that take corticosteroids long-term for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, calcium supplementation is crucial and highly recommended.⁴ 5.CoQ10 Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant and heart support nutrient that your body uses to promote cell growth and maintenance. It is found in meat, fish, and nuts, but not in enough quantity to significantly increase CoQ10 levels in your body. Studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 may be beneficial in restoring optimal levels of energy, reducing oxidative damage, and improving heart function. Most people have enough CoQ10 naturally, but it is often depleted in those who take medication to support healthy cholesterol level.⁵ If you are taking prescription cholesterol medication, talk to your pharmacist about nutrient depletion and the benefits of adding a CoQ10 supplement to your daily routine. 6. Magnesium Magnesium is essential for bone health and energy production as it regulates the nervous system, eases sleep problems, balances blood sugar, and makes proteins in the body. Magnesium is in many foods, but these foods may not be part of your regular diet. To get more magnesium into your system without a supplement, try eating more: ³ Artichokes Beans Brown rice Nuts Pumpkin Soybeans Spinach Tofu Magnesium deficiency has been associated with increased cardiovascular risk, such as hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.⁴ If you are not getting magnesium in your regular diet, consider consulting with your doctor and/or pharmacist about taking a magnesium supplement. 7. Zinc Zinc is a major player in supporting the immune system. The average American diet is not rich in zinc, so adding a zinc supplement can compensate for this and help boost your body’s ability to fight off infections and heal wounds.⁴ In addition to adding a Zinc supplement to your regimen, you can also incorporate more zinc rich foods in your diet: Spinach Brown rice Grass-fed beef Pumpkin Seeds Patients should never begin taking a supplement to address nutrient depletion before talking with their pharmacist or physician. Some supplements may reduce the effectiveness of certain medications and may not be recommended based on the medications a patient is taking. With the help of your local community pharmacy team, you can break the cycle of nutrient depletion and get the most benefit out of your medication regimen. Sources

  • Women’s Health: Hormones 101

    What are Hormones? ¹ Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. Endocrine glands, which are a special group of cells, make your hormones. The major endocrine glands are pituitary, thymus, thyroid, adrenal, and pancreas. Additionally, women produce hormones in their ovaries. Hormones are very powerful and affect many different aspects of your life, including: Growth and development Metabolism Sexual function Reproduction Mood Too much or too little of a certain hormone, also known as hormone imbalance, can seriously disrupt the way your body functions. Signs of Hormonal Imbalance ² The symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women can vary depending on which gland is affected. The more common symptoms include: Mood swings Constipation or diarrhea Irregular menstrual cycle Infertility Abdomen or back pain during menstruation Low sex drive Insomnia Unexplained weight gain or loss Brittle bones Excessive hair growth Rashes or acne Causes of Hormonal Imbalance There are many medical conditions that can affect hormone production including, but not limited to – diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, and certain cancers.² Aside from having a medical condition, there are other factors that could be causing a hormonal imbalance in your body, including: ³ Chronic stress Poor diet and nutrition High percentage of body fat Toxins, pollutants, herbicides, and pesticides Severe allergic reactions Misuse of anabolic steroid medications Certain medications Puberty Menstruation Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding Menopause Treating Hormonal Imbalance If you are experiencing new or persistent symptoms that you believe may be caused by hormonal imbalance, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider. Your doctor may evaluate you by blood testing, imaging, or urine testing, depending on what condition they believe is causing your symptoms. There are medical treatment options for women with hormone imbalances, including: birth control medications, hormone replacement medications, anti-androgen medications, vaginal estrogen, clomiphene and letrozole, assisted reproductive technology, metformin, and levothyroxine. ³ There are also natural supplements commonly used to reduce symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Before taking any natural or herbal treatment, it is important to check with your pharmacist to ensure safety and avoid negative interaction with any other medications you are currently taking. If you believe you’re experiencing hormonal imbalance and would like to make some lifestyle changes to help reduce symptoms, there are some steps you can take to help, including: ² Maintaining a moderate body weight Eating a nutritious and balanced diet Exercising regularly Practicing good personal hygiene Reducing and managing stress Practicing meditation Limiting sugary foods and refined carbohydrates Avoiding packaged foods Restricting the use of cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals In addition to eating a nutritious and balanced diet, it may be beneficial to also shop organic for certain foods, such as those foods found on the “Dirty Dozen” list which are foods that are most affected by pesticides. The EWG analyzed 46 items, and found that the following 12 fruits and vegetables were most contaminated with pesticides: ⁴ Strawberries Spinach Kale, collard, and mustard greens Peaches Pears Nectarines Apples Grapes Bell and hot peppers Cherries Blueberries Green beans Most women will experience periods of hormonal imbalance in their lifetime. Imbalances are common during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and aging. But if you experience continual, irregular hormonal imbalances, especially those symptoms that cause pain or discomfort, it is important to talk to a trusted healthcare provider about the symptoms you experience and the best treatment plan. Sources,primary%20ovarian%20insufficiency%20(POI).

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