September 8th, 2016

Understanding Your Medications

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There’s been a lot of emphasis the last few decades on the issue of “polypharmacy”, that is, patients who are taking too may drugs.

This is especially a concern, of course, for the elderly, who cannot tolerate most drugs as well as younger people can, and who also tend to develop far more complications from their drugs than younger people do, in part because seniors like me tend to have multiple health problems, and those problems can often affect how a particular medication works in us.

medicationPlus, because seniors are often on a lot of medications, many seniors don’t fully understand how to take their meds, when to take them, when not to mix their pills, and so on, which also leads to a lot of preventable medication-related problems.

To illustrate how much of a problem this can be, in a recent study published in the journal Age Aging, over 750 “patients aged 60 and over who were taking five or more prescribed drugs simultaneously were asked about their medication”.

Only 15 % of these patients fully understood the nature of their medication use, and no surprise here, men, those taking the most meds, and the most elderly were the worst at knowing all they should know about their drugs.

So if you have to take any drugs regularly, even if it’s only 2 or 3, here’s a strategy that really cuts down on the potential pitfalls from using those meds: make your pharmacist into a very good friend.

It’s what I do: whenever I have to start on a new drug – I have had to change my blood pressure medication several times over the last couple of years, for example – I always try to ask my pharmacist about that new drug such as what are the likely side effects, what are some of the less common but more serious side effects I should look out for, when should I take my pills, with what can I take them, and how will this new pill react with the ones I’m already on, and so on.

In fact, if you’re taking 5 or more medications, there is a program called the Medication Review Service which specifically aims to answer all those questions – and some you haven’t even thought of – to help educate you about the drugs you are taking.

And one other useful medication-taking strategy that can be help a lot of people is the blister- packing service, which can help those of us who are somewhat forgetful about when to take our pills to actually take them at the time we’re supposed to.

See your pharmacist today to make sure you’re on the right track with your prescriptions.



November 24th, 2014

ASA (Asprin) – 2014 Update

The wonder-drug of three decades, Is ASA (acetylsalicylic acid/Aspirin®) still considered an essential preventive strategy for cardiovascular and other diseases?

Once proclaimed as a super-drug that helped prevent heart disease, colon cancer and a host of other health conditions, daily low-dose ASA/Aspirin™ (81 mg) has recently become controversial. In fact, some media outlets have run with the headline that popping a low-dose ASA tablet every day may not result in the preventive benefts once touted, and could actually be harmful. READ MORE



May 8th, 2014

National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day: May 10

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Properly disposing of drugs is important for a number of reasons, including the safety of your loved ones and the well-being of the environment. Many prescription medications, over-the-counter products and health supplements remain in medicine cabinets and kitchen drawers long after their expiry date, while others are simply unused. At some point in time, they are thrown away in the garbage, flushed down the toilet, or—in the case of liquids—poured down the drain.

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February 18th, 2014

Children and Medications

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February 2nd, 2014

Mixing Medications

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January 28th, 2014

Soothing Coughs & Colds

L2110112More and more, people are turning to natural ways of calming the tickly throat and coughing that accompany winter ills. That’s no surprise, as throughout the millennia and across the world, humankind has turned to Mother Nature to help soothe and heal.
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October 4th, 2013

Bug bites and diseases

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Here’s a trade secret that may get me kicked out my doctors’ golfing club (which wouldn’t bother me much, to be honest, because frankly, I hate golf): very often, when we see what looks like a bite on someone during the summer, we tell them it’s a spider bite, which generally satisfies the patient who nearly always says, “You know, that’s just what I thought, too.”

Trouble is: spiders rarely bite, especially in Canada, so a “spider bite” is much more likely to be a result of the bite of another bug, such as a flea, for example.

In fact, according to one expert, Chris Buddle, an arachnologist – that’s a guy who studies spiders – at McGill University, spiders don’t want to bite you because like me at most parties, they’d really much rather avoid contact with humans.
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