London Drugs Pharmacists Offer Tips on Minimizing Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
For the 20 to 25 per cent of Canadians who are affected by seasonal allergiesi, there are now more relief options available over-the-counter without a prescription.
London Drugs pharmacist Jason Chan-Remillard recently appeared on CTV Morning Live Calgary to talk about these relief options, and to share his tips for spring allergy season. Watch the full interview here.
One new option for relief is Flonase Allergy Relief, which was approved for over-the-counter use in Canada in August of last year, making this the first spring allergy season where Canadians will be able to access the medication without a prescription. The intranasal corticosteroid spray relieves common symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and throat, nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes as well as management of sinus pain and pressure.
With many over-the-counter options available for specific allergy symptoms, London Drugs pharmacists are encouraging patients to ask for assistance in selecting the right medication. Pharmacists can provide information about new relief options, help patients understand how to use medications safely and identify potential side effects or drug interactions.
“The therapy of choice will depend on your symptoms, the severity of your symptoms, your past response to medications, and other medical conditions that you have, if any says pharmacist Chan-Remillard. “There may be new or better options available to treat your specific symptoms or that target specific allergens. We can help pinpoint which product will work best for you, whether it’s using an antihistamine, decongestant, nasal spray or eye drops, for instance.”
Remillard recommends prepping the medicine cabinet early. Sometimes starting allergy medication two weeks prior to the beginning of the season allows the medication to enter the system and be in full effect by the time allergy season officially hits.
“Being proactive can help to minimize symptoms before they intensify. Don’t wait until your eyes are itchy and you’re sneezing continuously before seeking relief,” advises Remillard.
Since respiratory problems associated with seasonal allergies are initially caused by pollen and dust in the air, the best prevention method is allergen avoidance.
“Avoidance may mean changing your habits like staying indoors during high pollen times. If the allergen is something you can’t completely avoid, like dust mites, there are other steps you can take. These may include removing household décor that collect dust, using central air conditioning during high pollen times, reducing air humidity with a dehumidifier and using HEPA filters.”
Remillard says that most people with seasonal allergies know they have it, although it can sometimes be confused with the common cold. Before any over-the-counter antihistamines or allergy relief products are taken, patients need to ensure the allergies aren’t something more severe.
Allergy Asthma Information Association of Canada. Available at http://www.aaia.ca/en/media_statistics.htm Accessed April 2017.
Recognizing the increasing role pharmacists play in the Canadian health care system on National Pharmacist Day, January 12, 2017
January 12th marks National Pharmacist Day. For many years, Pharmacists have been taking on expanded roles in the Canadian health care system, working more closely than ever before with patients, their families and collaborating with other frontline health care providers to deliver team-based patient care.
While most Canadians are familiar with visiting their local pharmacist to pick up prescriptions, many people are still unaware that they also provide convenient access to a range of health care services.
London Drugs’ Certified Injection Pharmacists are able to administer vaccinations right at the pharmacy.
Travel and Immunization Clinics are hosted at many London Drugs pharmacies to help prepare patients for international travel. Pharmacists review a patient’s immunization history and make sure vaccinations are up-to-date according to provincial, national and even international immunization programs. They can suggest and administer additional vaccines depending on planned travel activities, previous immunization history and the local conditions at many common destinations. For example, International Health Regulations require Yellow Fever vaccination for travel to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. South America and Saudi Arabia requires proof of meningococcal vaccination travel during certain dates.
London Drugs’ Certified Injection Pharmacists are also able to administer influenza vaccinations, as well as the Zostavax vaccine for Shingles.
Traditionally in Canada, the authority to prescribe medications has rested with doctors but as part of Pharmacists’ expanded scope of practice in Canada, Pharmacists in many provinces now have the ability to provide emergency prescription refills, renew or extend prescriptions, modify or adapt drug therapy, change drug dosage and even have independent prescriptive authority (in Alberta).
As the most accessible health care professionals in Canada, Pharmacists make significant contributions to the quality of drug therapy and patient outcomes by initiating, monitoring and adjusting drug therapy. For example, Anticoagulation Clinics are offered at some London Drugs pharmacies for patients taking the drug warfarin. Pharmacists can administer international normalized ratio (INR) tests which provide valuable insight about the effectiveness of the medication. Based on the immediate test results, pharmacists can adjust medication dosages right away resulting in improved patient care.
Beyond preparing and dispensing medications, London Drugs pharmacists play a critical role in helping to improve medication adherence through a number of programs and services.
Through Medication reviews pharmacists provide personalized consultations to patients to examine and discuss issues around medication use, side effects, interactions, and anything else related to medication therapy, with the goal of ensuring safe and effective treatments.
London Drugs Certified Diabetes Educators assist patients through individualized Diabetes Management Clinics. These customized one-on-one consultations focus on blood sugar testing, medication management, preventing low blood sugar, foot care, eating well and getting enough physical activity.
Health is often a part of many Canadians’ New Year’s resolutions, and London Drugs pharmacists are equipped to offer guidance. Patients can meet one-on-one with a pharmacist for any of the following screening clinics and preventative health services:
London Drugs pharmacists help equip patients with physician-prescribed portable monitors like the Holter Monitor, which is a wearable EKG (electrocardiogram) device that continuously records a person’s heart rhythms, and Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor which measures blood pressure over a 24-hour period, giving healthcare providers the most clear and thorough picture of the body’s response to working, exercising, eating, and sleeping. Both monitors help physicians diagnosis critical health issues.
It’s cold and flu season once again and odds are that you will come down with at least one such infection this year, and if you’re unlucky or a parent – kids bring these viruses home very regularly – you might even get sick two or three times.
You can, of course, easily lower your risk of getting the flu by getting the flu shot. Although it’s still early days, it appears that the current vaccine is a decent match against this year’s flu strain.
Unhappily, though, there are still no vaccines against the many different viral strains that cause colds. An experimental “cold vaccine” developed in the US seems to be working well at preventing colds in macaque monkeys, and although it’s a huge step from other primates to humans, this is still hopeful for the future.
Keep in mind that frequent hand-washing also seems to lower the chances of coming down with colds, the flu, and some gastrointestinal viruses too, so wash your hands often.
But if you do get sick, how can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu and does it even matter to know whether you are sick with one or the other?
The second part is easy to answer: a cold doesn’t do much damage but “the flu” can kill, especially the most vulnerable such as the very young, the very old, those with immune system problems, and others.
So yes, it does matter to know the difference if only to be much more aware of trying not to pass on the flu should you get it.
However telling the difference between the two isn’t easy.
In very general terms, although both viral infections produce somewhat similar symptoms such as a sore throat and cough, colds are milder infections that may drive you crazy because of your blocked nose or sneezing but unlike the flu, colds don’t usually lead to high fevers or more generalized symptoms such as aches and pains.
As I said, though, this is a broad generalization and there is a large symptom crossover between colds and flus.
Final question: how should these viral infections be treated?
Lots of fluids (as a Jewish man, I swear in the benefits of frequent large bowls of delicious home-made chicken soup), rest (I also believe that people who are sick with what they believe to be the flu should stay home until they feel better; and if they can’t stay home, they should at least wash their hands as often as they can) and judicious use of medications for symptoms, although if you do decide to use drugs for symptoms, please do yourself a favour and consult your pharmacist about possible side effects from these drugs and especially how these drugs may interact with other drugs you may be taking.
If you’re sick of being sick then London Drugs has everything you need to take care of your health. Click here to shop our collection of cough, cold and flu relief, or learn more about getting the flu shot at London Drugs here.
If you or your child has severe allergies, an auto-injector such as EpiPen is a lifeline for potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment is critical for children with severe allergies now back at school.
At London Drugs, the price for EpiPen remains constant and the important allergy medication is fully stocked at all of our 78 stores.
For children with severe allergies, the start of a new school year is an important time to check expiry dates and update their prescriptions, including any anaphylactic medications. Our London Drugs pharmacists suggest parents ensure they have an emergency plan in place, after a study found a ‘worrisome increase’ in anaphylaxis cases among children.
The study revealed that the percentage of emergency department visits due to anaphylaxis doubled over the four-year research period. Only slightly more than half of children in the study who visited the emergency department due to anaphylaxis used an auto-injector prior to their arrival.
“While awareness in schools about severe allergies has grown, there is a lag in understanding when it comes to using auto-injectors such as EpiPen,” says London Drugs Pharmacist Jason Chan-Remillard. “Parents, caregivers and teachers should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know how to initiate treatment. Understanding how to administer epinephrine in an emergency is just as important as other lifesaving skills like CPR or the Heimlich maneuver.”
Parents of children with severe allergies should work with teachers and caregivers at the start of each school year to create an action plan with an explanation of the child’s allergy triggers, what to do in case of reaction, where they have access to epinephrine and how to administer emergency anaphylactic treatment.
“It’s especially important for lunchroom personnel to be aware of children’s health status. Often times, that requires the parents to speak with them directly about their child’s allergy triggers,” adds Chan-Remillard.
There is sometimes a misconception that peanuts are the only trigger for severe food allergies. In actuality there are nine food allergens commonly associated with allergic reactions; eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, sesame seeds, soy, sulphites, tree nuts, wheat and other cereal grains that contain gluten.
Epinephrine auto-injectors expire so it’s important to check dates and update prescriptions when necessary. Expired auto-injectors can be properly disposed of in the sharps disposal bin at London Drugs pharmacies and our pharmacists can provide re-education about how to self-administer EpiPen.
Osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent thief’ because bone loss occurs without symptoms unless one has fractured. According to Osteoporosis Canada, hundreds of thousands of Canadians needlessly fracture bones each year because their osteoporosis goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Take a proactive approach to protecting your long-term bone health by attending a London Drugs Osteoporosis Screening Clinic*. During the 45-minute, one-on-one consultation, your Patient Care Pharmacist will provide a one-on-one screening to measure your bone strength with an ultrasound bone measuring device and assess your risk for falls and fractures. You will be provided with an assessment, tips on how to minimize your risks and a personalized action plan to fit your wellness goals.
Book your appointment online at London Drugs’ NEW pharmacy website.
*A small fee applies for this service, for which a tax deductible receipt will be issued.
National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day is May 21st #RXDrop2016
National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day aims to promote the safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs and reduce the amount of drugs available in people’s homes for possible abuse and accidental poisonings.
Many prescription drugs that have a high potential for misuse come from the medicine cabinets of friends and families. In addition, improper disposal of unused drugs can have harmful environmental impacts if they end up in the garbage or sewer system. To reduce the potential harms of prescription and over-the-counter medications on individuals, families, communities and the environment, pharmacists recommend cleaning out your medicine cabinet at least once per year.
Five Tips for Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet
Visit londondrugs.com/medicationdisposal for more information.
Right about now, all across Canada, many families are in a quandary. The concern for some people, particularly those with school-age children, is whether or not to have a flu shot. While health authorities advise that having the influenza vaccine is the best way to avoid a bout with the flu—and possibly passing it on to others—alternative health proponents and magazines suggest otherwise, often saying it is “safer” to rely on botanical preparations, homeopathic immunity shots and healthy eating.
While we agree that healthy living makes a positive contribution to an effective immune response, flu viruses are ubiquitous, opportunistic, and unpredictable. Often, despite taking all the health-enhancing steps to avoid catching the virus, we fall prey to it, simply by being close to someone who coughs or sneezes on us, or touching something like a door handle that is contaminated with it.