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Are you one in 10 who suffers from acid reflux or heartburn?

Do you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, one in 10 Americans suffer from these at least once a week.

With so many different types of medications on the pharmacy shelves, it’s hard to know where to start in terms of getting relief.

First of all, talk to your pharmacist. She will help you look at the medications that you’re already taking — some of which may be contributing to your symptoms. Be sure to bring a full list of medications that you already take, including all prescriptions and OTC drugs, vitamins and supplements.

Many doctors and pharmacists suggest over-the-counter antacids for occasional heartburn. Histamine blockers Zantac and Pepcid can also be found over-the-counter to help relieve symptoms of acid reflux. These are good acid reducers to start with if you haven’t been on any medications.

If heartburn symptoms persist, your doctor may suggest proton pump inhibitors, such as Prevacid to reduce the stomach’s production of acid, or Reglan to make the stomach empty itself faster. Your pharmacist or your doctor can explain how these drugs work.

Perhaps before even trying medications, you should look at some other things that may be triggering your heartburn. If you’re overweight, that could be a contributing factor for acid reflux and heartburn. Certain foods can also be triggers.  Coffee, chocolate, carbonated drinks, fatty and spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, some dairy, and alcohol are common heartburn triggers. With heartburn, eating smaller meals and avoiding food for two to three hours before bedtime can ease symptoms. You may want to keep a heartburn diary to help determine what foods trigger the problem.

Relief can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and the medication you take.

Antacids like Tums work instantly, but wear off quickly. Antacids work best if taken 30 to 60 minutes before eating.Histamine blockers take effect in about an hour, but must be taken twice a day for heartburn prevention. Proton pump inhibitors are the most powerful drugs, but may not provide immediate relief because they act slowly. These drugs must be taken every day to be effective.

You should see your doctor if any heartburn treatment is ineffective after two weeks. Other red flags include cardiac-type chest pain, painful or difficult swallowing, recurrent bronchial symptoms/cough, hoarseness, signs/symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding, and progressive unintentional weight loss.

Sources: Pharmacy Times and WebMD

Last minute travel tips

Can you believe we’re more than half-way through summer? Pretty soon, kids will be getting school supplies or heading off to college. If you haven’t had a chance to take a vacation yet, you still have time before summer comes to a close. Here are some tips to make your last hurrah a success, plus some things to watch out for:

Of course we can’t write about a summer vacation without talking about sunburn. That’s because 62% of us get sunburned while on vacation. It’s painful, but it’s also preventable. Remember to pick up sunscreen, SPF 50  clothing and a wide-brimmed hat before heading out on your trip. Be sure to apply sunscreen 30-minutes before going outside and reapply throughout the day.

The health risks associated with sunburn go much deeper than just aging your skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, if a person has five or more sunburns, they are at twice the risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Hot Temperatures
Most people like to head South for vacation because of the warmer temperatures. However, the heat can be a health risk – especially for those who are not used to it.

Heat stroke is one of the most severe heat-related illnesses. It occurs when the body is unable to control its core temperature. Body temperature may increase to 106 degrees within 10-15 minutes, but the sweating mechanism the body normally uses to cool down is unable to cope. This can cause dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion, unconsciousness and – in severe cases – death.

The best ways to combat the heat is to drink plenty of water and limit outdoor activities during the peak of the day. If you are near a pool, take a dip! But, remember to reapply the sunscreen when you get out of the water.

Pool Parasites
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but a dip in a pool can pose a risk to your health. A recent report from the CDC found that over the past 20 years, there has been a significant rise in the number of illnesses caused by parasites living in swimming pools and hot tubs. In 2011-12, such parasites were the cause of 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death in the US.

The most common culprit was found to be a parasite called Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto,” which accounted for around half of all recreational water-related illnesses. Crypto is the cause of a disease called cryptosporidiosis, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, nausea, dehydration, vomiting, weight loss and fever.

Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine – the main chemical used to sanitize pools and hot tubs – meaning it can live for up to 10 days, even in pools and hot tubs that are well maintained.

While it is impossible to ensure other pool users are hygienic, there are some simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of illness:

  • Avoid using the pool if you have diarrhea
  • Shower before entering the water
  • Avoid swallowing pool water
  • Avoid urinating or defecating in the water
  • Ensure children take regular toilet breaks

Food and Drink
Particularly when traveling abroad and experiencing different cultures, the local cuisine doesn’t always set well in our stomachs.

According to the Rx for Travel Health survey, around 12% of American travelers experience food poisoning while on vacation. Food poisoning can last for days, causing such severe sickness and diarrhea that it is almost impossible to leave your hotel room.

It’s also wise to not drink tap water while vacationing in developing countries. Instead, drink bottled water – ensuring the seal has not been broken. Also, avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables – unless you have prepared them yourself – as these may have been rinsed with contaminated water.

Be wary of eating fish and shellfish when abroad. According to the CDC, around 50,000 annual cases of foodborne illnesses among US travelers are caused by these foods.

Ensure meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked before eating them, and avoid prepared food that has been left unrefrigerated for a number of hours – especially meat, poultry, egg and dairy products.

Plan Ahead
Be sure to pack bug spray and anti-itch cream if you’re traveling somewhere known for mosquitoes and other insects that carry disease.

Do you need vaccinating? If you are traveling to developing countries, where conditions are often less sanitary and pose higher risk of infection, you may need certain vaccines. Speak to your doctor to find out whether you need any vaccinations before you travel.

People with existing medical conditions should ensure they take any required medication with them, and it is a good idea to check there are health care services available at your destination should you require treatment.

Also make sure you have enough of your medications to last your entire vacation so you don’t run the risk of running out of them. It’s also a good idea to travel with a first aid kit and to check the medical facilities available at your destination.

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

We are all familiar with the many signs of aging, including arthritis. But did you know that kids can suffer from arthritis, too?

Nearly 300,000 kids in America have been diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis (JA).  JA is an broad term used to describe the many pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children under the age of 16 when their body’s immune system attacks their joints, causing swelling, stiffness and permanent damage. This condition is extremely serious; if left untreated it can result in loss of mobility, blindness and even death.

No known cause has been found for most forms of juvenile arthritis. Some research points toward genetics and the combination of genes a child receives from his or her parents causing the onset of JA when triggered by other factors.

There are several types of JA:

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) – Considered the most common form of arthritis.
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis – Causes muscle weakness and a skin rash on the eyelids and knuckles.
  • Juvenile lupus –  Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood and other areas of the body.
  • Juvenile scleroderma  – Causes the skin to tighten and harden.
  • Kawasaki disease – Causes blood-vessel inflammation that can lead to heart complications.
  • Mixed connective tissue disease -May include features of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis and scleroderma.
  • Fibromyalgia –  A chronic pain syndrome which can cause stiffness and aching, along with fatigue, disrupted sleep and other symptoms. More common in girls, fibromyalgia is seldom diagnosed before puberty.

The most important step in properly treating juvenile arthritis is getting an accurate diagnosis. The process can be long and detailed since there is no single blood test that confirms any type of JA. In children, the key to diagnosis is a careful physical exam, along with a thorough medical history. Any specific tests a doctor may perform will depend upon the type of JA suspected.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for juvenile arthritis, although with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve the child’s quality of life. Most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, physical activity, eye care and healthy eating.

If your child is experiencing any symptoms of JA, see your doctor immediately so your child can get the treatment he needs.


Clinical trials – have you ever considered participating?

Have you ever thought about the process of how a drug gets to the market place? There are many steps that take place from initial research to getting on the pharmacy shelf and one of the last steps are the clinical trials. These trials test to see how effective the drugs are on humans who are suffering from the diseases that they are trying to cure.

The following are just some of the clinical trials are currently available in Wilmington for people with conditions such as:

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • COPD
  • Dimentia
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Gout
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Heart Disease
  • Hepatitis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • HIV
  • Kidney Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Rosacea
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Stroke
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • and more

Additionally, several new drugs have been approved by the FDA are now available to consumers.

For those of you needing treatment for chronic heart failure, Corlanor (ivabradine) was approved in April.

Kengreal (cangrelor) was recently approved for reducing periprocedural thrombotic events.

Do you have submental fat? Kybella (deoxycholic acid) was recently approved to treat this condition.

Two new treatments are now available for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea: Viberzi (eluxadoline) and Xifaxan (rifaximin).

And for the maintenance of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Stiolto Respimat (tiotropium bromide and olodaterol) is now available.

For a full list of clinical trials in Wilmington and around the county, visit Centerwatch.com. This site is also a good resource for drug information and industry news.