Monthly Archives: January 2016

Eight Tips for Taking Your Arthritis Medicines Safely

Most people who have arthritis take a medication for it. Even if it’s not a prescription drug, they may take supplements or herbal remedies.

The problem is that many people who suffer from arthritis also take medications for other conditions as well. And this can make it very confusing and perplexing when trying to keep track of things.

Here are eight tips to ensure you don’t make mistakes with your medicines:

1. When you go to the doctor, write down the names and dosages of your medicines so your doctor can keep track of what you’re taking. This can head off any potential drug interactions or drug side effects. There is nothing more frustrating for a doctor or nurse than taking a medication history and having the patient say, “Well, I take the blue pill for my blood pressure… and the pink one for my diabetes… and the green and white one for my arthritis…”

2. When you pick up your medicines at the drugstore, touch base with your pharmacist and ask him or her if what you’re taking makes sense and if there are potential problems. You can even schedule a medicine audit.

3. When discussing your medicines with your doctor, make sure you list all the nutritional supplements you take as well. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it is harmless. And there can be potentially harmful drug interactions as well.

4. If you’re taking a medicine that requires frequent daily dosing, ask if an extended release product or an equivalent medicine that requires less frequent dosing is available.

5. Consider using a pill box with separate daily compartments. These help you keep track of your medicines and also remind you of whether you’ve taken your medicine already. Most pill boxes have a separate compartment for morning medicines and one for evening medicines.

6. Understand dosing schedules. Taking a medicine three times a day is not the same as taking a medicine “every 8 hours.” Clarify this with the doctor or nurse.

7. If you need to take a medicine on an empty stomach, this means at least an hour before eating or three hours after eating. Taking a medicine which is supposed to be ingested on an empty stomach with food could limit absorption and reduce the effectiveness of the drug. By the same token, taking a medicine on an empty stomach when you should be taking it with food could lead to gastrointestinal issues. This is especially true of arthritis medicines.

8. Sometimes combination pills can replace two or three separate medicines and may be more convenient. An example would be an anti-inflammatory drug like Vimovo which is a combination of naproxen and a proton pump inhibitor. The combination is kinder on the stomach.

Taking Prescription Drugs Abroad

It would be a bitter pill to swallow if you went on holiday to a foreign country and had all your luggage and medicine lost. Would you know what to do? If your wellbeing or your life depends on taking regular doses of your medicine then you can’t afford to take any chances when travelling.

It can be baffling trying to organize taking your prescription medicines abroad with you. One important tip is to always carry the medicines in your hand luggage with your travel documents, money, and other important items (it’s not a good idea to take out the doses you’ll need during the flight and pack the rest in your luggage!) Keep all the medicines in your hand luggage for the duration of the journey in case your checked luggage is lost or misdirected. The medicine should always be kept in its original bottle or package, with the label affixed showing your name, prescribing doctor, and dosage information.

A little preparation before you leave will lessen the need for panic if the worst should happen – and also avoid you missing a dose. Most medicines should be available at pharmacies abroad, but be aware that they may be known by a different name. (The same applies for many over-the-counter medicines, such as allergy pills and pain killers). Before you leave, ask your chemist to provide written instructions about your medicine, the dose, and the name it is called in the country you plan to visit. Visit your GP well in advance of your trip to talk about any necessary vaccinations for your trip – especially if you have a medical condition which might complicate things – as the courses can take weeks or months to complete.

Another tip is to get the go-ahead from your doctor before you book your trip, and make sure that you will be able to obtain travel insurance to cover your pre-existing conditions. There are upper age restrictions on many travel insurance policies, and all pre-existing medical conditions must be declared. If a travel insurance company agrees to cover the risk associated with your condition there may be an additional fee to pay. Some insurers will not accept any pre-existing conditions at all, so the process of finding a suitable policy could take some time and you may need to shop around.

Your GP is permitted to prescribe up to a maximum of three months supply of most medicines for your travels. If you have an extended trip planned check to make sure that your doctor is willing to do this before you book. For all prescription medications you will need to obtain a letter from your doctor to take with you, especially for items such as diabetes equipment – syringes, etc. With the tight security at airports these days, you are likely to encounter problems if you try to get through without back-up documentation to vouch for your medicines and medical equipment.

If you take controlled drugs (such as methadone) check the rules for taking them into foreign countries as there may be restrictions. A letter from your doctor must be obtained, and if you plan to be gone for more than three months you will also need to obtain a personal license to carry the drugs. If in doubt about any medicine or medical equipment, check with your doctor, travel agent or airline or get in touch with the embassy of the country you plan to visit. HM Revenue & Customs provides useful information on their website. The Department of Health is a great resource, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website also contains a lot of useful tips about travel (especially the ‘Know Before You Go’ section).

Although it’s a good idea to apply for your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you should never rely solely on it, but always purchase a private travel insurance policy as well. Some countries do have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK, but many do not. In most cases you will be required to pay for prescribed medicines and apply for reimbursement when your return home. Your private insurance may pick up any of the non-reimbursable payments you have to make out of pocket. It is important to remember that the EHIC and your private travel insurance policy will only cover treatment which becomes necessary during your trip abroad due to illness or an accident. It will not cover you if you travel abroad for the specific purpose of receiving medical treatment.

As a last tip, it’s a good idea to print out detailed information of what is and is not covered medically in the countries you plan to visit and take it with you. Always check for up-to-date advice and information before you leave. If you have access to the internet, type in EHIC, or check the Department of Health website for more information. A spoonful of sugar won’t help the medicine go down or improve your mood if it gets lost abroad and you have no idea how to replace it!

Tips For Giving Meds to Kids

Sometimes a child needs to be administered some medicine, but often kids are unwilling to take it. The following is a list of tips for giving meds to kids:

Tip one: Don’t tell them it is candy. If you do, you run the risk of your child overdosing on the medication, or wanting it when they are not feeling ill. Lying to your child is not a good idea, so make sure that you give them medication under no false pretenses. It is best to let them know that they are sick, and that it will help them to feel better.

Tip two: Make it easy to get in. One of the problems with medication is that it can be difficult for the child to take; a child is not easily able to swallow a pill. So, choosing chewable tablets, or liquid medication can really help. For infants younger than six months, a syringe or calibrated eyedropper does well. For older, choose a method that will work for them.

Tip three: Choose medicine that appeals to them. If your child does not like cherry flavoring, don’t try and give them cherry medication. Most medicines come in a variety of flavors, from bubblegum to grape, and more.

Tip four: Give your child some control and choices. Most children do not like to be forced to do anything, especially not when it is something like taking medicine. If you give them a bit of a choice, there is a much better chance that they will take their medication. For example, you can say, “When do you want to take it? Now? Or, after lunch?” You can say things like, “Which color of medicine would you like?” This will give them a small choice to make, and help them feel more in control, and thus more willing to comply with what you want.

Tip five: Show them how to take medicine by example. Often a child fears taking medicine because it is unknown to them, so a better option is to let them see you taking medicine. You can simply take a multi-vitamin, or calcium chew; it does not have to be actual prescription or medicine, it just has to be something that your child can see you take so that they feel comfortable taking their medication as well.

When giving a child medicine it is important to make sure that they eat it, but to also follow the dosing and instructions. Make sure they take it with food if they need to. Make sure you do not open pills and mix it with food unless it says you can. Never try and trick your child into taking medication or they will think that it is something they don’t want to do and that is why you have to trick them. Help them understand it, and make it as tasty and appealing as possible.

Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

According to the National Cancer Institute, the odds for women being diagnosed with breast cancer worsened in the last 30 years, rising from 1 in 30 to 1 in 8. Although breast self-exams and mammograms provide good tools for screening and diagnosis, a science-based alternative medical paradigm called Functional Medicine offers hope for prevention of the disease.

Functional Medicine traces causes of diseases to nutritional deficiencies, environmental toxins and bodily imbalances, among other factors, and both helps patients to prevent health problems by correcting underlying problems in those factors and to treat diseases without surgery or drugs.

Screening Vs. Prevention

Breast cancer screening is not prevention. It is early detection, which helps those who have developed breast cancer to discover it early enough to treat it before it becomes deadly. Prevention means helping you not develop the disease at all. Fortunately, research provides numerous indicators of positive steps you can take to avoid getting breast cancer in the first place.

Four Key Breast Cancer Prevention Factors

First, you should eat an anti-cancer diet high in fiber and rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, deep-water fish, garlic and plenty of water. Such a diet addresses nutritional deficiencies that very often cause disease. Avoid hydrogenated or trans-fats and oils, products made from refined grains (like white rice or white bread) or foods with added sugar. Drink alcohol in moderation.

Second, ask your health practitioner to assess your hormone balance. Studies show that oral contraceptives increase the risk of cancer of the breast in women under the age of 45. Also, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, synthetic hormones can cause breast tissue to become denser, making it harder to spot trouble on a mammogram.

Third is exercise – not intensive levels of exercise, but something you probably can manage by making small adjustments in your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the mall entrance. Walk together when meeting friends, instead of sitting and eating. By setting aside the time for mild to moderate exercise seven or more hours a week, you decrease your risk of developing this form of cancer by 20 percent.

Fourth, you should do your best to avoid exposure to toxins and pollutants, which account for about 80 percent of breast cancers. Toxins include pesticides, solvents, adhesives, dry-cleaning chemicals, phthalates and synthetic hormones that find their way into the food chain. Eat organic whenever possible, to eliminate the ingestion of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Likewise, avoid eating meat, eggs or dairy products from conventionally raised animals.