Category Archives: Medicine Solutions

Harmonious Hormones: Understanding the Thyroid Gland

One of the more common issues we as pharmacists see treated is thyroid disorders. There are many people who must take thyroid hormones as part of their daily routine. So why do some humans need thyroid supplementation, or a thyroid gland at all? I’m glad you asked. First, let’s examine what the thyroid gland is, how it operates and why it is so important.

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly gland located in the front of the neck and lies flush against the trachea. The function of this gland is to take up iodine and convert it to thyroid hormone, i.e. thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyroxine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine. The cells combine the iodine with an amino acid called tyrosine to form T3 & T4 and it’s these hormones that regulate our metabolism (rate at which the body converts oxygen and calories into energy). Every cell in the body is dependent on thyroid hormone to regulate their metabolism. Thyroid hormone also controls respiration, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, cholesterol levels and menstrual cycles to name just name a few. Thyroid gland hormone release is under the guidance of the pituitary gland. Think of the thyroid as “heat” and the pituitary as the “thermostat”. When the pituitary, or “thermostat” registers lower body temperature, it releases Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which is a messenger that tells the thyroid, or “heater” to release thyroid hormone and accordingly our body temperature goes up.

Any interruption in this process can make us feel pretty miserable. Elevated thyroid levels causes anxiety, weight loss, irritability, nervousness, sweating and increased body temperature, hair loss, trembling hands and missed or light menstrual periods. This can commonly be caused by Graves’ Disease which is an autoimmune disorder that results in high levels of thyroid hormone being released into the body. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Hashimoto’s Disease which causes the body to attack it’s own thyroid gland, causing it to not work, therefore resulting in sluggishness, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, weight gain, pale skin, muscle weakness, excess menstrual bleeding and depression.

Your doctor can perform several different kinds of tests to determine the current level of T3, T4 and TSH in a person’s bloodstream. If it is determined that a patient has too much circulating thyroid, the doctor may prescribe methimazole, which inhibits the production of thyroid hormone in the body. In the case of Hashimoto’s Disease, a patient would need to supplement with thyroid hormone from an oral tablet, consisting of T4 (Synthroid®, levothyroxine) or a combination of T3 & T4 (Armour Thryroid®, porcine thyroid).  Yearly levels are usually checked to make sure an adjustment in dosage is needed.

Compounding pharmacies are in a unique position to formulate thyroid combinations that may be more appropriate dosages for a patient, rather than what is commercially available, since dosage requirements for humans are pretty specific and vary widely depending on the individual.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns about your thyroid. We can certainly help you get back on track to feel harmonious with those necessary hormones.

 

Sources: EndocrineWeb, Mayo Clinic

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Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

Veterinary Compounding…. Help for our Furry Friends

cat and dog
The world of compounding is a vast one… one in which doctors and pharmacists are in a unique position to help patients based on their individual symptoms using medications tailored to their issues. The options are much broader than commercially available medication that is “one size fits all”. That mentality is not only reserved for humans, but for veterinary patients as well. Dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, birds, rats, rabbits, reptiles, etc. — if you call it a pet, chances are we can formulate a palatable medication to help. Most commonly we make antibiotics, appetite stimulants, heart medications, pain medications, medications for urinary issues and steroids. We’ve found that dogs and ferrets love chicken flavors, cats like fish flavors, birds love sweet fruity liquids, and rats, well, anything goes.  And for pets that have difficulty (or give you difficulty) taking oral liquid medication, we can compound their medication into a flavored chewy treat, a transdermal cream applied to the inside of the ear, or even a suppository.
Animals have unique dosing needs that are not the same as humans.  Dogs, for instance, metabolize medication much faster than humans.  If an average person could take 50 mcg of a Thyroid medication daily, a dog could possibly handle 800 mcg twice a day.  Also, inert chemicals that are commonly found in human foods and medications can be harmful to pets.  For instance, Propylene Glycol is harmful to cats when taken orally, and Xylitol is poisonous to dogs.
From time to time, a manufacturer may discontinue a veterinary medication. Often this is because it is not needed in the vast quantities necessary to make mass production cost-effective, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some pets that need it. When that medication has worked well for animals, a compounding pharmacist can prepare a prescription for the required therapy – and tailor the strength, dosage form, and flavor to that pet’s specific needs.
Just like their owners, animals are individual and unique.  From a Great Dane to a dwarf rabbit, we can help your pet get well. They are a part of the family, after all!
(Sources: pccarx.com, Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook)
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Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

Scarred for Life? Not Necessarily…

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We all have them…the badges of courage, marks of trials and tribulations…or if you prefer to be more to the point, those scars that we present to the world that show what we’ve endured over our lifetimes. Scars are the remnants of an impressive self-healing mechanism that our body accomplishes, all without any conscious input from us. When we injure ourselves, perhaps sliced with a knife, an abrasion from falling off of a bike or a burn from cooking, the body goes through 3 different phases of wound healing. The first phase is the inflammatory stage. This is where the blood vessels initially contract and a clot is formed. When bleeding stops, the blood vessels open up again and allow essential cells, antibodies, white blood cells, growth factors, enzymes and nutrients to enter the area and begin healing. The second phase is called the proliferation phase and consists of a rebuilding with granulation tissue and comprised mostly of collagen. The 3rd and final stage is maturation and involves a remodeling of collagen. This is where scar formation occurs. It is at this stage where scar therapy ideally should be initiated.
There are 4 prominent types of scars produced by the body. The first kind is called hypertrophic. This is where the body releases too much collagen and in turn, a raised skin appearance is exhibited within the border of the scar. It usually occurs immediately after trauma and is predominantly located on the chest, back, shoulders and buttocks. The second type of scar is a keloid. Keloids differ from hypertrophic in that while they both are caused by excessive collagen production, keloids extend out from the border of the scar and invade into healthy tissue. If surgically removed, there is upwards of a 90% recurrence rate. This type of scar usually occurs on the earlobes, shoulders, anterior chest, upper arms and cheeks. Contracture scars are another type of common scar. These usually occur after second or third degree burns and cause tightening of the skin. Lastly, atrophic scars have that sunken or pitted appearance. They occur when there is not enough collagen production and is mostly seen with acne scarring.
Compounding pharmacists are trained to recognize scar types and tailor medications that will help decrease the scar’s appearance and in some cases, make it disappear. Medications that we employ to help us with this process are corticosteroids, silicone, antihistamines, tamoxifen, calcium channel blockers and anti-inflammatories. Treatment is most effective when used right away. Some formulations will have no effect on stitches and can be used as long as needed. Generally, they are not usually needed any more than 60 days.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about scar treatment formulas. While most of us are proud of our accomplishments, sometimes a daily reminder on our skin is not the way we want to remember them.

 

Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

Seasonal Allergies…Nothing to Sneeze At

 

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As warmer weather approaches, our Mother Earth reawakens in the form of emerging grasses, blooming flowers and a general ‘greening up’ of the outside world around us. After this long cold winter, most of us look forward to this rebirth we call Spring with heightened anticipation. That is, those of us that don’t experience what is commonly known as seasonal allergies. Also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis,  this condition of hypersensitivity to airborne pollen or, in some cases, mold spores can wreak havoc on one’s immune system and ultimately one’s feeling of well-being.
 During the spring season plants, trees and grasses release tiny grains called pollen into the atmosphere for the purpose of fertilization. When those tiny grains find their way into the nose of someone that is highly allergic to them, that person’s immune system goes into overdrive. The immune system mistakenly identifies the pollen as a foreign invader and releases antibodies which attack the allergens. That discharge of antibodies also causes a release of chemical triggers such as histamine to try to neutralize the ‘enemy’. Histamine causes itchy watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, sneezing and a scratchy throat. Along with these symptoms one may experience nasal or ear congestion.
 If you walk into any pharmacy, there is usually an entire aisle dedication to over the counter, or OTC, remedies for allergies. Most of the products available are simply a mix of only a few types of medications:
  • Antihistamines work just like their name implies, they block the release of histamine. Products like Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra are all antihistamines and are usually very effective at resolving the “drippy” symptoms, like watery eyes, runny nose and post-nasal drip. Benadryl works quickly to alleviate these symptoms but causes drowsiness in most people. Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra are all non-drowsy, but normally take a few days to start working.
  • Decongestants shrink sinus tissue. The sinuses are located around the eyes and nose. When those tissues become inflamed, it becomes very hard to breath out your nose and a feeling of pressure may develop in the head. The ears may also feel ‘clogged’ due to the drainage canal, or Eustachian tube, becoming inflamed as well. Decongestants, like Sudafed, reduce this swelling, thereby relieving pressure, and resolving the ‘echo feeling’ in the ears. However, that tissue shrinkage is not exclusive to the sinuses, therefore when other tissues experience constriction, like blood vessels, an increase in blood pressure may occur. These medications carry a warning that patients with high blood pressure should consult a physician before taking. Nasal decongestant sprays, such as Afrin and Neo-Synephrine,  would also fall into this category and don’t necessarily carry the same warning about hypertension, but these products can only be used for a very short period of time otherwise they may cause ‘rebound congestion’ or a worsening of nasal congestion.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids are the latest category of RX to OTC switch and are very effective at decreasing allergy symptoms. These products reduce inflammation just like the nasal decongestants but do not carry the same warning about high blood pressure. There are only 2 products available and they are Nasacort and Flonase.
  • Allergy Eye drops, such as Zaditor and Naphcon-A are ideal for those who have itchy, watery eyes. These agents work topically and do not carry warnings for patients with hypertension.
  • Herbal remedies include Butterbur, Quercetin and Stinging Nettle. These products have antihistamine properties and help to reduce inflammation.
Of all of the patients that come in to see me, a large percentage of them need counseling for seasonal allergies. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about remedies for relief from these symptoms. There is no reason that we all shouldn’t enjoy this wonderful time of the year and with the right combination of products for your symptoms, we can all enjoy it equally as much.

Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

Pneumonia Pneuws

My TV wants to know….have I had this one done? I see this commercial regularly and while it is an annoying interruption to my favorite TV shows, the message is an important one. Pneumonia vaccination is an vital step to staying healthy this time of year.

What exactly is pneumonia? Why is it so dangerous? Let’s examine the science behind this potentially deadly infection. Pneumonia affects the lungs.  The lungs are one of the hardest working organs in the body. They expand and contract up to 20 times a minute to supply oxygen to be distributed to tissue all over the body and expel carbon dioxide that has been created by those tissues. Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the tiny air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus, causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills and difficulty breathing. If those tiny sacs are plugged, air exchange cannot take place. The result is that too little oxygen ends up in the blood and if the cells that are dependent on that oxygen are deprived of it, they die.  A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia. While pneumonia has many possible causes, it is commonly acquired by breathing in the bacteria or virus. Most healthy bodies are able to ward off this attack, but sometimes those germs can overpower the immune system. 
Pneumonia is grouped by the germ that causes it and where it was acquired. The classifications are: Community Acquired (bacteria, bacteria-like organisms {walking pneumonia} viruses and fungi), Hospital Acquired (infection appearing after 48 hours or longer during a hospital stay), Health Care Acquired (those residing in assisted living facilities or other long term care centers) and lastly, Aspiration (inhaling food, drink, vomit or saliva into the lungs).
Disease can range from mild to life threatening. It remains the leading cause of death of children under 5 worldwide. Those at risk include very young children, people over the age of 65, smokers, those with compromised immune systems and certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart conditions. Also at risk are those individuals hospitalized and put on a ventilator. 
Ok, so what can we do to prevent/treat this condition? Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pneumonia. In the United States there are several different vaccines that prevent infection from the bacteria and viruses thatmay lead to pneumonia. They include Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Influenza (flu), Measles, Pertussis (Whooping cough), Pneumococcal and Varicella (chickenpox). They work by introducing dead or weakened virus/bacteria proteins into the body. Our bodies will then analyze the protein components of the attacker and from there it will {ideally} illicit an immune response, in the form of the production of antibodies. If the body is presented with this organism again, it will already have an arsenal of antibodies to attack it, therefore protecting itself before the disease can progress. That being said, vaccines may not offer 100% effectiveness. There are those individuals that cannot illicit an immune response, or those that the vaccine is contraindicated.
Pneumonia vaccines are safe, though mild side effects may occur including, but not limited to, pain/redness at injection site and mild fever. They contain dead virus components so they cannot cause pneumonia. Current guidelines from the CDC suggest that adults 65 years and older receive one dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13, Prevnar) first, followed by a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23, Pneumovax) ideally 6 to 12 months later. If you’ve already received any doses of PPSV23, the dose of PCV13 should be given at least 1 year after the most recent PPSV23. Other ways of reducing pneumonia risk are to frequently wash your hands, avoid close contact with sick people, limit exposure to cigarette smoke and treating and preventing conditions like diabetes.  If infected with pneumonia, treatment usually involves antibiotics or antivirals and in more serious cases, hospitalization.
I encourage you to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any questions or concerns you have. In my practice, I frequently have patients ask me questions about the pneumonia vaccine. The ‘take-away’ from these conversations usually end with the fact that no, the vaccine cannot give you pneumonia and yes, you need the vaccine if you haven’t had it before, regardless of your age.  Simply put, you do need to get this one done. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
 
Source: CDC.gov, American Lung Association, WebMD

Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

Why We Love Cells…(And You Should Too!)

Have you ever taken a medication prescribed by your doctor only to have it not work? I’m almost sure that every person out there that has taken medication has experienced this problem. There are many factors that go into prescribing medicine. The doctor has to take into account your age, weight, gender, coexisting medical conditions and knowledge of the cause of the problem. Now we can add pharmacogenetic testing to that list. What? This simply means that in addition to the aforementioned factors, the doctor uses your genetic information to ensure that your prescription is right for you.

Every living thing contains cells, which are the basic building blocks of an organism. The human body is composed of trillions of cells. They provide structure for the body, take in nutrients from food, convert those nutrients into energy, and carry out specialized functions. Cells contain the body’s hereditary material and can make copies of themselves. Each cell in your body also contains DNA with the your genetic makeup and that information influences how your body will respond to medication.Pharmacogenetic testing helps predict that response.
There are many, many chemical reactions that go on in your body on a constant basis, some of which you are aware of like feelings of hunger, thirst or sleepiness. These conditions are caused by the body releasing certain chemicals and hormones to let you know what it needs. Then there are the reactions that you are not consciously aware are occurring such as the chemicals that are responsible for digestion, and those that control respiration and circulation. The body also releases certain chemicals, hormones and enzymes to break down foreign bodies (i.e. drugs) that it is presented.
Since we are all unique individuals, some of us break down medications better than others. Some of us completely lack the necessary enzymes to metabolize certain medications. The medication simply passes through the system without benefit. For example, there are tests available that check for the presence of cytochrome CYP2C19. This liver enzyme is responsible for metabolizing a wide variety of drugs, including the anticoagulant clopidogrel (Plavix), antiucler drugs such as omeprazole (Prilosec), antiseizure drugs such as mephenytoin, the antimalarial proguanil and the antianxiety medication diazepam (Valium). It is estimated that 2 to 14% of the population lack this enzyme. There are also tests available for statin medications (high cholesterol meds) and ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder) medications. These tests is very easy to complete, the patient simply swabs the inside of their cheek and the swab gets mailed to a lab. The lab can then analyze the DNA derived from the cells captured by the swabs to determine if your body produces the necessary enzymes to process certain medications. Results are provided ordinarily in 3 to 4 days. Armed with these test results, your doctor can more accurately prescribe a medication with a better chance of it achieving it’s outcome.
Modern science has catapulted our understanding of our bodies and how we can preserve it’s healthy status for longer periods of time. These tests are just a sample of the journey of discovery to these enhancements. Tapping the information in one cell could reveal more definitive treatments for people undergoing medical issues. Just think, all that information packed into a little unit that can’t even be seen with the naked eye. What’s not to love about that?

 

Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

Kindness is Contagious…Spread it Around

Written By:  Andrea Ewen

Moving forward into this new year, I find myself sitting at my desk pondering what disease ‘du jour’ to write about for my monthly article. However, it seems that diseases are the last thing on my mind lately as I instead find myself looking back at some really heartwarming events that have unfolded recently. I read on the Internet, the newspaper and see on T.V. all kinds of deeds of thoughtfulness from strangers. Wonderful, selfless acts that restore our faith in humanity and warm the heart. The unnamed individual who went into a Toys R Us in New England and paid off everyone’s layaway items. The good Samaritan who rescues a drowning dog from a frozen pond. The famous pop singer who routinely sends gifts to troubled fans and pays visits to sick kids in the hospital. These stories give me a certain hopeful feeling. My belief is that most people want to do good things, but I think that some believe that if they ‘have to’ do something kind, it must be sizable in nature. Not true. Examples of small in nature but large in impact are a smile to someone who’s having a bad day. Paying a toll for the person behind you on the parkway. Holding the door open at the grocery store for the person coming in next. Saying hello to someone with whom you’ve made eye contact. There are numerous chances to promote good will throughout our days.
 Pharmacists are in a unique position to help people on a daily basis. We are available most hours of the day, no appointment is needed and best of all, our expert advice is free! However, I, as a pharmacist, was also the recipient of good will. Recently I had a call from one of my customers, I’ll call her Phyllis (because that’s her real name…wink, wink). She had come into some money over the holidays and wanted to find out from me how she could help some of my other customers that may be struggling to pay for their medicine. Her only stipulation was that I provide a small image of an angel and I let them know that someone is looking out for them. This act really hit home for me. Thanks to this ‘angel’, I am lucky enough to see the gratitude on people’s faces. I’m lucky enough to experience the feeling of helping someone who truly needs help. So one of my goals for 2015 is to spread kindness and helpfulness. Advise patients on how to make strides toward good health using all of the resources I have available. Listen to others without the assumption that it will cure a problem, but with the chance it will minimize their troubles. Smile at others without the expectation of it being returned, but with the confidence that it will maybe spark the tiniest sense of comfort. And keep our pharmacy’s ‘Angel Program’ going for as long as I can.

 

Shingles…Oh, What A Pain!

 

Roughly 1 out of every 3 Americans will develop shingles within their lifetime and the risk increases as we age. Anyone that has recovered from a chickenpox infection has a chance of developing shingles. Health officials assume that every person born before 1980 has been infected with the chickenpox virus (varicella); whether they remember it or not, or maybe it was such a mild case that the person did not even realize they were infected. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant (inactive) in the body, along the nerve lines. Scientist are not sure what causes the virus to reactivate later in life, maybe it’s illness or a lull in the immune system, possibly due to chronic immunosuppresive therapy (corticosteroids, anti-rejection meds). Upon reactivation, shingles causes a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. Blisters also form and tend to scab over in 7 to 10 days. Occasionally before the rash appears, patients may notice pain, tingling or itching at the location where the rash will develop. Shingles cannot be spread from one person to another. However, the varicella virus may be transmitted to a person who has not previously been infected with chickenpox. In that case, the person may develop chickenpox, but not shingles. The virus spreads through direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. Once the blisters have developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.

The varicella virus travels along the nerve fibers which would account for the pain that may occur after the rash has healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and up to 30% of people will develop this nerve damage. Damaged nerve fibers are not able to send messages from your skin to your brain normally. The messages may become confused and exaggerated, causing chronic, often excruciating pain that may persist for months, or even years. In addition to feeling pain at the site of the infection, patients may also experience sensitivity to light touch, weakness or paralysis, or itching and numbness.

There are several treatments available for postherpetic neuralgia. Pain relieving patches, such as lidocaine or capsaicin, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and opioid painkillers are widely prescribed. Compounding pharmacies can also custom mix a blend of these chemicals to maximize pain relief while limiting bothersome side effects. Topical preparations generally circumvent systemic absorption, therefore decreasing the likelihood of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and daytime sedation that is normally associated with these treatments.

Perhaps the best way to arm yourself against a shingles attack to to receive the herpes zoster vaccine (Zostavax). Vaccination has been shown to decrease the risk of shingles by up to 70%. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommend that people 60 and older receive one dose of the shingles vaccine. Even patients that have had a previous shingles infection are encouraged to get the vaccine as it can prevent a future occurrence of the disease.

Pharmacists are readily available to provide information, advice and many are certified to administer vaccines. I would encourage you to speak with your healthcare professional regarding the steps you can take to keep yourself healthy and “shingle-free”!

 

Source: cdc.gov, MayoClinic.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.

American Diabetes Month

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Andrea Ewen

November is American Diabetes month. Seems strange to “celebrate” a disease which remains the 7th leading cause of death of Americans and costs the health care system $245 billion dollars each year. Nearly 30 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 86 million are “pre-diabetic”. Diabetes is responsible for many co-morbid conditions as well, including heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, blindness, kidney failure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, nerve damage and amputations. So what is diabetes and why does it wreak such havoc on the body? Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, which is an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies, to utilize that glucose. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it’s own insulin as effectively as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. The excess glucose eventually passes out of the body in the urine, but leaves the rest of the cells of the body “undernourished”. That is why diabetes affects so many organ systems. It’s not just the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin, or the body to respond to it…it’s the eventual starving of all the other cells that depend on that glucose for energy, and to survive.

It is very important for patients diagnosed with this disease to try to keep tight control of their blood sugar. This means getting as close to normal glucose levels as safely possible. Normal levels are between 70 and 130 mg/dl before meals and 180 mg/dl less than 2 hours after starting a meal. In order to manage this tight control, one must pay more attention to diet and exercise, measure blood glucose levels more often and for those who take insulin, change how much you use and your injection schedule. Patients with an A1C, or glycinated hemoglobin (which is a measurement of blood glucose levels over a period of time), of less than 7 typically experience less incidence of diabetic eye disease, kidney disease and nerve degeneration. Another benefit to keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range are having more energy, less hunger and thirst, less need to pass urine often, faster healing times and having fewer skin and bladder infections.

If you are diagnosed with this disease, it is recommended that you educate yourself by taking classes, joining support groups or finding information online. Your doctor and pharmacist are also available to help with information about managing your health and medications. You should see your doctor as least twice a year and your pharmacist is available just about every day of the week. There is considerable evidence that pharmacist provided counseling enhances patient compliance and improves the quality of life outcomes in diabetes. However, in the end, you are the most important member of your healthcare team.

 

Calling the Shots…August is National Immunization Awareness Month

One of the 10 greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century was the development of immunizations. Vaccines have significantly reduced the incidents of many infectious, and sometimes deadly diseases. When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body is left with a supply of cells (antibodies) that help recognize and fight that disease in the future. Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the disease in the future. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever, however such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity. Immunizations are recommended for infants, small children, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions, though it is advisable for everyone to keep up with immunizations throughout their lifetime.

With autumn approaching, flu vaccinations should begin soon after the vaccine is available, ideally by October. Even though flu activity usually peaks in January, outbreaks can occur as early as October. Your body needs about 2 weeks after vaccination to develop protective antibodies, so the sooner the better. The benefits of receiving this vaccine is that it offers protection to you, and to those around you.

 There is a common misconception that getting the flu shot can cause you to get the flu. This is simply untrue. The injectable flu vaccine that is administered is inactivated; the virus is killed during the manufacturing process and then broken into subunits. Influenza has a short incubation time (1 to 4 days) so coincidental infections near the time of vaccination may be misinterpreted by an individual as the vaccination causing illness. Also, if the strains of influenza in the vaccine do not closely match the circulating strains, a patient who received the vaccine can be infected with a strain that was not included in the vaccine. However, even if the strain is not a perfect match to the circulating strains, the vaccine can still provide some protection; patients who were vaccinated may experience fewer complications, hospitalizations, and death.
Your community pharmacy can give you more information regarding the flu shot/immunizations and many pharmacists can administer the injections in the store.  The flu shot is covered by Medicare so be sure to present your card to the pharmacist.  He or she can answer any questions you may have.
You have a busy life and too much responsibility to risk getting sick. Vaccines can help you stay healthy so you don’t miss work and you have time for your family, friends and hobbies. Getting your recommended vaccines can give you the peace of mind that you have the best possible protection available against a number of serious diseases. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.(Source: cdc.gov)

Andrea Ewen, R.Ph., Medicine Solutions Pharmacy

Andrea Ewen is co-owner of Medicine Solutions Pharmacy located in Manahawkin.  She has been with Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, NJ for 10 years and prior to that worked at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Manahawkin for 10 years.  Ms. Ewen received her certification in compounding techniques in November of 2006 from Pharmacy Compounding Centers in America located in Houston, TX.  Andrea holds a BS in pharmacy from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  She has been in pharmacy practice for 20 years.