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Diabetes – Back to Basics

 

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

We hear a lot about diabetes in Bermuda. This is because we have an extraordinarily high rate of it in our population: at about 14 per cent we have about double the global average. While we’ve previously discussed how to manage the disease and how to reduce your risk, I thought it was time for a crash course in diabetes, just in time for Diabetes Awareness Month.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition once it develops and can have serious effects on a person’s health and lifestyle. It is defined by the body’s inability to regulate sugar in the blood, known as glucose. We take in glucose in our food, when sugars and carbohydrates are broken down. It is what gives us the energy to get on with our lives, from focusing on work to running around with our kids. Glucose levels in the blood are controlled by a hormone known as insulin which allows the sugar to enter our cells.

But those with diabetes have problems with their insulin which means that the cells don’t get the energy they need and the glucose just builds up in their bloodstream. This causes all kinds of problems including fatigue, extreme thirst, inability to heal properly and blurry vision. There are also a number of serious complications that can arise from diabetes which is why it is so important to regulate the disease with the guidance of a medical professional.

There are two primary forms that diabetes takes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 means that a person is unable to make insulin at all and it is considered more serious and is unavoidable for those who have it – scientists have yet to discover its cause. Approximately ten per cent of those who have diabetes have Type 1 and they must regulate their blood sugar with frequent insulin shots. Typically, Type 1 develops early in life, often in childhood, though there are exceptions.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common, particularly in Bermuda, and is defined by the body’s cells not responding to insulin the way it should and/or not being able to make enough of it. It can often be avoided with a healthy lifestyle, although there are certain risk factors that can determine how likely it is that you will develop it, including: obesity, family history, an inactive lifestyle and certain ethnic factors.

Those with diabetes must be vigilant about their health and at this time of year it is also important to think about the rise of seasonal illness. Those who have diabetes are often considered by medical professionals to be more at risk of sickness and developing complications which is why we recommend the flu shot for diabetes sufferers: it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you want to find out whether you may be at risk for Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK has created a useful diabetes risk assessor tool that you may find useful: https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start. It is much more preferable to try to reduce our risk factors for diabetes than it is to manage the disease: prevention is king.

You can find out more about diabetes in Bermuda by checking out the Bermuda Diabetes Association online at their website here: http://www.diabetes.bm/

If you have any questions about diabetes, either in yourself or a loved one, or want to find out whether you might be at risk, please speak to your pharmacist or your doctor.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

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What Generic Means for You

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

Have you ever heard people discussing “generic drugs” and not been sure what they were talking about? Helping our customers find the best medicine for them and their budget is one of the great services that your pharmacist can offer you, so we want to make sure that you’re not missing out!

When your doctor gives you a prescription for medication, they will sometimes specify a particular brand of product. However, our Pharmacy Act allows pharmacists to substitute a generic or less expensive equivalent to what your doctor has prescribed, so long as you agree, without having to contact you doctor.

Generic medications contain the same active ingredients as you would find in brand name medicine and will have the same overall effect. The only difference is the packaging, branding and, occasionally, the inactive ingredients. The inactive ingredients are the things in your medicine that don’t usually have an effect on your treatment – for instance, they might affect the superficial aspects of it, such as shape or taste of it.

Most prescription drugs are available as both a brand offering and generic. Our preference is ordinarily to offer our customers the generic option as they are much more cost effective. We would never offer you a medical treatment that we didn’t think would be just as effective as a popular brand or if we thought that there would be a negative trade-off in terms of the quality of the medication.

Generic medication is typically cheaper because the company producing them does not need to invest in research, testing or advertising – the drugs being produced are copies of medicines developed and tested by big names in pharmaceuticals, once their patents have ended.

Additionally, in Bermuda, we import all of our drugs in from different countries, so sometimes we may have sourced a cheaper, brand or alternative from a different market in order to give you access to more affordable medicine.

Generic drugs are not just limited to prescription medication, many over the counter medications, such as allergy and pain relievers, also have generic alternatives.

Your pharmacist has a record of your repeat and continuing medications and by returning to the same pharmacy over and over again, you can develop a productive rapport and work together to make sure that you are taking the medicine that best fits your needs and is affordable.

If you are on a long course of medication we also encourage you to give us feedback. If you feel that one type of generic or brand medication is working more effectively than another, then let us know. We are always happy to work with you to manage your health and budget.

To find out more about generic medications and to find out if there’s one you should be using, please speak to your pharmacist.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

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Clean Hands, Good Health

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

September is the time of school-time and germs! That’s why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) organisations, Cleans Hands Coalition, is celebrating International Clean Hands Week from September 16.

We are taught from a young age the importance of washing our hands before we eat, after we have used the bathroom and anytime our hands have got dirty. However, many adults lose this conscientiousness: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society found in 2017 that 84 per cent of British adults don’t wash their hands long enough to clean them of bacteria which can cause infections or viruses and that one in five adults does not wash their hands after using the bathroom and a third don’t before preparing food.

When we don’t wash our hands of bacteria, we leave ourselves open to all kinds of diseases and infections through the transference of fecal, mucus and other matter. This can result in illnesses such as salmonella, norovirus and conjunctivitis. The best way to avoid this is to instill a proper handwashing regimen any time you come into contact with dirty material, so: after the bathroom, after using public transport, after interacting with a sick person and throughout food preparation.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society recommends that hands must be washed for 20 seconds – long enough to hum “Happy Birthday to You” through twice – in order to effectively remove germs from them. There are also a number of useful guides about the method used to wash your hands, in particular this one from the UK’s National Health Service shows how to most effectively scrub yourself clean in the manner of surgeons.

At Lindo’s, we stock a wide range of hand-soaps, including natural ones, soaps for sensitive skin and super effective ones, such as Dial’s products.

We don’t always have the luxury, though, of having the time or facilities needed to wash our hands the old-fashioned way but that’s where hand sanitiser comes in handy! Portable and effective, a hand sanitiser is a great handbag or desk staple.

When choosing a hand sanitiser, you should look for one that has an alcohol content of at least 60 per cent, that you don’t dislike the smell of – the smell of hand sanitisers can be surprisingly long lasting – and does not include triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical but it has recently been the subject of controversy as it may cause harmful side effects.

The CDC recommends that hand sanitisers should have an alcohol content of at least 60 per cent – the higher the alcohol content, the more germs and bacteria are eliminated. Lindo’s stocks Germ-X which is a powerful germ-killing hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of 63 per cent and comes in a range of handy sizes and scents. However, many people find that the high alcohol content in hand sanitiser can result in dry hands or may have sensitivities that that the alcohol can aggravate. To combat dry hands, it is worth investing in a hand cream (such as Nivea Hand Cream). For those who find alcohol-based sanitisers too harsh or for the very young, alcohol-free sanitisers can work, although they may be slightly less effective. CleanWell hand sanitisers are conveniently available as a foam cleanser and in wipe form and are formulated from natural ingredients designed to kill germs and leave hands soft.

When it’s not possible to wash your hands easily, such as when you’re out and about or using public transport – always a hotspot for bacterial transfer – then hand sanitiser is a great second option. Washing your hands will remove the germs from you altogether, whereas a hand sanitiser will kill them. However, there are certain bacteria that hand sanitisers are not effective against, including norovirus.

Using a hand sanitiser or washing your hands regularly can have a positive effect on your health but also on your productivity: a study in 2010 by BMC Infectious Disease Review found that office workers who used an alcohol-based sanitiser five times a day were two thirds less likely to get sick than the rest of their co-workers.

If you have any questions about how to keep your hands cleans or want product recommendations, please don’t hesitate to speak your Lindo’s pharmacist!

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

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Keeping an Eye on Your Health

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

Summer is in full swing now and many of us are enjoying spending our days out in the sunshine. It is important, though, to take care of ourselves as we make the most of the good weather. Along with the risk of sun burn and dehydration, summer brings around greater instances of eye injuries – particularly in children – so we have put together some tips to take care of your sight this season.

Allergy sufferers often put up with symptoms all year round in Bermuda and summer is no exception, with our native flowers in bloom across the island. Allergy medications can help to keep itchy eyes, rashes and sniffles to a minimum but if you prefer to target the symptoms directly without dealing with any other possible side effects, such as drowsiness, drops such as Visine AC, Otrivin-Antistin and Opticrom can be very effective.

While encouraging your children to play outside is wonderful for developing their sense of imagination and will allow them to get a good workout, parents often come to expect injuries to happen – amongst these are eye injuries which can be caused by rough play, branches or dust. This is a normal part of growing up and shouldn’t deter parents from letting children explore the great outdoors, but it pays to be prepared.

A bruised or swollen eye should be treated in much the same way as a regular bruise would be treated: a cold pack should be applied to the injury for short periods of time. Pain can be relieved with over the counter painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).

An irritated eye that has dust or other particles in it can be flushed with an eyewash such as Optrex which will soothe the eye and help to dislodge anything stuck in it. It is also important to avoid rubbing the injury which might make it worse, even though it will itch.

Swimming is a great way to cool off, but it can irritate the eyes, whether it is seawater or chlorine from the pool. If you have a swimming pool, check that it is not overchlorinated – this can cause stinging pain and dry eyes. The correct pH level for a swimming pool is 7.4, which is the same level as the pH level for human eyes. It can be helpful for children to wear goggles while they are swimming, to keep irritants out.

Many people complain of feeling dried out in the summer, as air conditioners are switched on more regularly and, as a result, dry eyes are a common symptom of this. To avoid this, take care to minimise the use of your air conditioner at home: if it is a breezy day, encourage a cross draft by opening windows on opposite sides of the house and use an electric fan. Before bedtime on warm nights, run the air conditioning on full until it’s time to sleep and then switch off the air conditioning in favour of an electric fan. If dry eyes become too uncomfortable then you may want to use an eye-drop product such as Systane, Genteal or Blink, which help to lubricate the eyes and ease any discomfort.

Whenever a group of children are in close contact with one another, there is always the risk of a spread of infection. This can often lead to the much dreaded ‘pink eye’ sweeping through your child’s friendship circle or siblings. Polysporin Antibiotic Eye Drops can help to treat these quickly and efficiently and does not require a prescription: you may find it useful to keep a bottle in your medicine cabinet if a family member is prone to eye infections.

In addition to obvious physical ailments, it is important to look after the long-term health of your eyes: wearing sunglasses and a hat will help reduce glare and strain and will reduce the chance of squinting which can result in headaches.

If eye pain, redness or itching lasts longer than a few hours, then you should consult a pharmacist or a doctor. If there is any sensitivity to light or signs of a progressing infection, such as a build up of ‘eye gunk’ or if the eye has been scratched, then you should make an appointment to see a doctor.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

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Play safe around the water this summer

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

Swimming, boating, diving, snorkelling, fishing, jet skiing: Bermuda is surrounded by water and we appreciate its ability to cool and entertain us all summer long.

We do, however, need to respect it and the potential risks we face when in, on or around it. From drowning to the increased effects of the sun, water can pose a number of hazards that can turn a fun day to an awful memory.

To begin, when on the water, be sure to drink lots of water. It is easy to get dehydrated when in the sun all day, so plan for at least 125 mL of water per person for every half hour in the sun.

According to the CDC, most child drownings happen at a residential pool and most adult drownings occur around open water. Drowning can occur in mere minutes, and a small child can drown in just a few centimetres of water. Teaching children from a young age to be careful around water is the first step; tell them that they are never to go in water without asking permission, and sign them up for swimming lessons as young as 6 months of age. And whether in lessons or not, children should always wear a flotation device and should always be supervised when around water. Everyone, children and adults alike, should wear a flotation device during water sports.

Extended exposure to the sun’s rays is inevitable when enjoying a day on the water. Even an overcast day can cause harm to unprotected skin.

Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays which are also harmful and cause the skin to age. Choose a broad spectrum with 30 to 50 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) for best protection.

The US Food and Drug Administration changed labelling guidelines for sunscreen in 2017, and what used to be referred to as waterproof must now be called water-resistant. Neutrogena, Ocean Potion, Coppertone and Banana Boat all have water resistant and sweat resistant formulations.

There are many choices now for sunscreen, so there is no excuse to go without. We sell Eco-friendly brands (reef safe) by Raw Elements and Sol Rx and cruelty free Vegetarian or Vegan products by Alba Botanicals and Kiss My Face. Zinc Oxide is the safest and best way to filter UVA and UVB rays; look for products from Think Baby and Blue Lizard.

Whatever you choose, apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside, and use approximately the amount of one shot glass for complete body coverage. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 80 minutes and always reapply after getting out of the water, even if you use a water-resistant brand.

If possible, avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10:00am and 4:00pm and wear clothes that cover your skin: there are a lot of SPF products for kids and adults alike. Wear a hat and protect your eyes with polarized sunglasses.

Even the most careful sunbather can suffer the odd sunburn. If you have overdone it, cover the area with a cool, damp towel or take a cool shower and leave the skin moist. Use a moisturizer with aloe vera or soy or even hydrocortisone cream to relieve the skin. Since a sunburn can cause dehydration, drink extra water.

Summer is here and Bermuda’s beautiful waters beckon. Armed with a little knowledge, common sense and some water-safe products, your day by the water can go – well, swimmingly.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

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Men’s Health Month

MENS HEALTH-PHARMACY CORNER-2018-

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

This month we’re going to talk about men’s health. So much emphasis in lifestyle and health media is placed upon women, but it’s important to talk about men’s issues, too. June sees the United Kingdom celebrating Men’s Health Week from June 11-17 and the United States recognising Men’s Health Month. The goal of these events is to raise awareness of preventable health problems and to encourage earlier detection and treatment of them among men and boys.

The biggest killers of men in the United States today are heart disease and cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control. However, there are many things that can be done to reduce the risk of these diseases.

The first of which is to ensure a proper, well-rounded diet which contains a full spectrum of nutrition supplemented by an active lifestyle. This combination is the surest route to maintaining a healthy weight, which will greatly decrease the chance of heart disease. In addition to men requiring more calories than women – usually 2,500 calories a day to women’s 2,000 – men and women have slightly different needs when it comes to nutrition.

To ensure that your nutritional needs are met, we suggest taking a multivitamin specifically formulated for men, such as One-a-Day’s Men’s Health Formula or Centrum Men. These supplements will contain more zinc than a regular supplement, which aids in the production of testosterone in men. Many will also contain an antioxidant known as lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the chance of prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) has deemed prostate cancer the most common cancer in men, with one in nine being diagnosed with it in their lifetime.

Additionally, men may want to try Tonkat Ali Honey, Maca Powder Honey with Muira Puama or Yohimbe Bark Honey with Red Ginseng – these are honeys supplemented with herbs which enhance male performance and/or benefit the prostate.

Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men, particularly those of African-American descent. About 60 per cent of cases are diagnosed in men aged over the age of 65 and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is approximately 66.

In addition to ensuring that your diet is well rounded, ACS recommends that men eat at least two and a half cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day, keep physically active and stay at a healthy weight. This is, of course, a recipe for a healthy life, not just for cancer prevention.

In addition to ensuring that your body has everything it needs to work at its best, it’s important to take care of your external body, too. That’s why many skincare brands now carry products specially formulated for men. These products can include more masculine scents and even formulations: a man’s skin is estimated to be approximately 25 per cent thicker than that of a woman’s. Dove and Nivea both offer soaps specially formulated to clean and moisturise men’s skin and both brands, as well as Neutrogena offer daily moisturisers.

Men also have to consider sun protection, which can reduce the chance of skin cancer – a serious risk in sunny Bermuda. By investing in a daily moisturiser that contains sun protection, this will help to protect the skin. Alternatively, getting into the habit of applying sunblock as part of your morning routine – after washing your face – will also work and will help to keep your complexion youthful!

While it is good to observe awareness events such as Men’s Health Week or Month, the important thing is to take on this awareness all year round and to take care of yourself properly. If you have any questions or concerns about male health, please don’t hesitate to consult a pharmacist or a medical professional.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

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