Are you getting enough Vitamin D?:
Vitamin D has a long and very fascinating history. Rickets, a disease consisting of bone deformities, pain and fractures was first defined in the 17th century but it took until 1920 before the cure for Rickets was discovered. That cure is known as Vitamin D.
Today in Canada, we rarely see cases of Rickets, but low Vitamin D levels can cause osteomalacia (softening of the bones) and osteoporosis (fragile bones) in adults.
Vitamin D’s best known role is to keep bones healthy by helping to increase the absorption of Calcium. Without enough Vitamin D, the body can only absorb 10-15% of dietary calcium. If Vitamin D only protected bones, it would still be very essential to our health. But researchers have discovered that it may do much more. Vitamin D may also play a role in reducing your risk of Multiple Sclerosis, decreasing your chance of developing heart disease and helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu. Researchers have also noticed that people who don’t have enough Vitamin D tend to fall more often than other people. They found that taking a Vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of falling by up to 22%.
As important as Vitamin D is, very few foods contain Vitamin D so some foods such as milk, cereal and orange juice have Vitamin D added to them. However, it is impossible to get your daily dose of Vitamin D through diet alone.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” since our body produces vitamin D naturally through direct exposure to sunlight. Just 10 minutes a day of mid-day sun is plenty. However, as we enter the winter months and our days become shorter with less hours of sunlight it can be very difficult to get the sufficient amount of Vitamin D through the sun alone.
Taking Vitamin D supplements can help you get the proper amount of this Vitamin. Health Canada recommends at least 400 IU per day in infants and up to 800 IU per day in adults over 70. New research suggests that higher daily amounts are needed and that people over the age of 50 generally need higher amounts of Vitamin D than younger people do.
Although the exact amount may be in question, the importance of Vitamin D is not. Talk to your Pharmacist or Doctor to ensure you get the right amount for your needs.
Anxiety-We are here to help!
Sometimes it takes a leap of faith. Treating anxiety can be difficult. Along with counselling, prescription medications can have a hugely positive impact in treating General Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety can affect every part of a person's life and it can also hold the sufferer back from getting treatment. The fear of what the medication will do or what bad side effects may occur is enough to scare the patient away. The perfect drug for anxiety would work quickly and would have no side effects. I've searched high and low but the perfect drug doesn't exist. All medications carry a risk, but many of them can be lifesaving and that's a pretty big benefit.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's) and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI's) can be very effective in General Anxiety Disorder. These drugs take at least 4 weeks to start to work. We often counsel patients that they need to be patient with these drugs. Side effects can show up within a day or two of starting the medication, but they will lessen with time. The benefit of living without anxiety, and the enjoyment of life that is restored, can far outweigh the small but noticeable side effects.
If you have started a new medication for anxiety, talk to your pharmacist. Let us know what you are experiencing. There might be ways to make the side effects go away. We also want to know if you are feeling better on the drug. There are many SSRI's to choose from and it can be a matter of trial and error to find the right drug.
If you haven't started a medication, but your doctor has recommended one, your pharmacist is there to talk to you about it. We can go through how to take the pill and what to expect in the coming days and weeks.
It can take that leap of faith to get started, but your pharmacist can help ease your fears.
Alana Berg, BSP, Pharmacist
Did you know our pharmacists can prescribe for eczema?
Eczema is a lifelong skin condition that first appears in early childhood and reoccurs periodically into adulthood. It is recognized by itchiness, oozing, weeping sores, and cracking/bleeding skin. Eczema ranges in severity and treatment options, but usually appears in several common sites (hands, wrists, legs, feet, behind the knees, neck, and face). Although eczema should first be diagnosed by a physician, pharmacists can prescribe medications to treat eczema flare-ups.
Proper skin care and moisturizing is helpful to prevent eczema from worsening and often is the only treatment needed. However, prescription medication is sometimes required when eczema becomes inflamed and irritated.
It happens all too often for many of us, we go to bed and wake up the next morning with a cold sore. Cold sores are also known as “fever blisters” which often appear on or around the lips, chin or cheek. The herpes simplex virus is responsible for the formation of these fluid filled blisters which may cause pain, redness and swelling around the affected area.
The herpes simplex virus is easily transmitted from one person to the next by touching a cold sore or the fluid inside one, sharing utensils, kissing an infected person or through saliva. There must be a break in the skin in order for the virus to enter the body. Once a person becomes infected with the virus, it will remain dormant for the rest of one’s lifetime. When the virus is active it travels down the nerve cells to the skin often causing a painful, fluid filled blister to appear. Although there is no cure for cold sores there are treatments that are readily available to reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease healing time.
The first time a cold sore appears is known as the “primary” episode. This infection tends to be more painful and longer lasting than subsequent infections. Symptoms may include pain, itching or tingling around the mouth, fever, sore throat or swollen glands. The duration of this primary infection may range from two to six weeks. Some people may never have another episode while others may experience several throughout the year. It is important to remember that subsequent infections tend to be shorter in duration and symptom severity often decreases as well.
For some patients, cold sores may cause pain or embarrassment even though they tend to resolve on their own. Your pharmacist can suggest or even prescribe medications such as Valtrex or Zovirax that may decrease the duration of a cold sore. Over the counter medications (where no prescription is required) often contain an ingredient such as benzocaine to decrease the pain or itching associated with cold sores. Abreva, is another over the counter product which if applied in a timely manner (right when the tingling or burning sensation begins) may also decrease healing time.
Triggers often vary from person to person but may include stress, a weakened immune system, intense sunlight or injury to the affected area. Remember, there is no need to cringe next time you feel that burning or tingling sensation, your pharmacist is here to help you!
Tammy Callaghan Pharmacist, BSP
Here they share Improve Memory in a Few Easy Steps:
Everyone's memory needs an occasional boost. But for people living with dementia, knowing how to improve memory recall can make profound differences in their lives and the lives of their families. Spending time together with memory exercises and games is a great way to enjoy a loved one's company. Below are some ideas for games and activities.
Use Flash Cards
Assemble a set of cards with pictures of common household objects on them. Choose pictures that are fairly simple. When you want to play, shuffle the deck, and deal two or three cards; you can deal more if your card partner is feeling sharp today. Ask the person to describe what's on the card and how it might be used. You could also use the cards to create a story together. The idea is that a picture of a hat, a location, or a coffee shop might lead to talking about a memory spent vacationing with family while enjoying a cup of coffee.
This free-form game lends itself to modification and embellishment. You can make it as simple or complex as you like. Depending on the pictures you choose, the stories could spark memories of other associations. Keeping associative memory sharp could improve overall clarity and acuity, some studies suggest.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Thousands of years ago Greek philosophers linked a sharp mind with a sound body. Today modern science suggests they were on the right track. Physical exercise can help dispel depression and anxiety. These conditions sometimes affect people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Better physical health could also contribute to clearer thinking, according to the Alzheimer's Society. People with memory problems can see especially positive results from regular physical exercise.
A home care aide can be a tremendous asset for people with dementia and the family members who love them. Trained caregivers can encourage their patients to be more physically active and provide the support they need to accomplish that goal. For people with mild dementia who live independently, having a companion spurs them to be more active. In multi-generational households caregivers help family members feel less overwhelmed while giving loved ones with dementia the physical care they need.
- To avoid frustrating people with moderate to advanced memory impairment, choose no-fail games and activities for dementia patients.
- Keep physical limitations in mind too. Easy-to-hold game pieces, high-contrast images and activities that don't rely on sound cues are good choices for people with osteoarthritis, cataracts, or other conditions that might affect their participation.
- Find local dementia support groups. These groups help family members manage their stress and can provide suggestions for other memory-building activities.
- Work with a certified in-home caregiver who has training with memory care. Your home care aide can give you great ideas for memory games and activities you can share with your loved one.
Have fun with these exercises and activities for dementia patients, and you could find your own recall sharper too. You know your loved one best. Choose memory exercises that fit your family member's capabilities to make the games enjoyable. Dementia support groups can offer additional guidance for memory care activities. This list is a good place to start.