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Suicide Behavior Awareness and Prevention

First and foremost, suicide does not discriminate. Not only does it claim more than 40,000 lives every year in the US, but those rates continue to rise.

People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having guns or other firearms in the home
  • Incarceration, being in prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures.

It’s important to note that people who attempt suicide differ from others in how they think, react to events, and make decisions.For example, there are differences in aspects of memory, attention, planning, and emotion; and often occur alongside disorders like depression, substance use, anxiety, and psychosis. Sometimes suicidal behavior is triggered by events such as personal loss or violence. In order to be able to detect those at risk and prevent suicide, it is crucial that we understand the role of both long-term factors—such as experiences in childhood—and more immediate factors like mental health and recent life events. Researchers are also looking at how genes can either increase risk or make someone more resilient to loss and hardships.

Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. Suicide is not a normal response to stress. It is, however, a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention.

What about gender?

Men are more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide. Men are more likely to use deadlier methods, such as firearms or suffocation. Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide by poisoning.

What about teens and young adults?

Teens and young adults are at risk for suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 34.

What about older adults?

Older adults are at risk for suicide, too. While older adults were the demographic group with the highest suicide rates for decades, suicide rates for middle-aged adults has increased to comparable levels (ages 24–62). Among those age 65+, white males comprise over 80% of all late-life suicides.

What about different ethnic groups?

Among ethnicities, American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) tend to have the highest rate of suicides, followed by non-Hispanic Whites. Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders each have suicide rates that are about half their White and AI/AN counterparts.

How can suicide be prevented?

One of the keys to suicide prevention is researching risk factors so programs can be developed to help people. Programs that work take into account people’s risk factors and promote interventions that are appropriate to specific groups of people. For example, research has shown that mental and substance abuse disorders are risk factors for suicide. Therefore, many programs focus on treating these disorders in addition to specifically addressing suicide risk.

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” can effectively reduce suicide risk. One type is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences by training them to consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.

Another type of psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been shown to reduce the rate of suicide among people with borderline personality disorder, a serious mental illness characterized by unstable moods, relationships, self- image, and behavior. A therapist trained in DBT helps a person recognize when his or her feelings or actions are disruptive or unhealthy, and teaches the skills needed to deal better with upsetting situations.

Medications may also help; promising medications and psychosocial treatments for suicidal people are being tested.

Still other research has found that many older adults and women who die by suicide saw their primary care providers in the year before death. Training doctors to recognize signs that a person may be considering suicide may help prevent even more suicides.

What are some signs and symptoms?

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently. One resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline , 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The data are based on death certificate information compiled by the CDC.

 

Sources:
Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health 

New FDA Approval

The FDA has recently approved more than a dozen new medications for conditions ranging from sickle cell anemia to Parkinson’s disease.

Actemra (tocilizumab) injection from Genentech was approved in September for the treatment of CAR T cell-induced severe or life-threatening cytokine release syndrome. Actemra is specifically indicated for adults and pediatric patients 2 years of age and older with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell-induced severe or life-threatening cytokine release syndrome.

Side effects may include:

  • upper respiratory tract infections
  • nasopharyngitis
  • headache
  • hypertension
  • increased ALT
  • injection site reactions

Bayer introduces Aliqopa (copanlisib) for the treatment of follicular lymphoma. Aliqopa was approved in September and is specifically indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma (FL) who have received at least two prior systemic therapies.

Side effects may include:

  • hyperglycemia
  • diarrhea
  • decreased general strength and energy
  • hypertension
  • leukopenia
  • neutropenia
  • nausea
  • lower respiratory tract infections
  • thrombocytopenia

Benznidazole from the Chemo Group was approved in August for the treatment of Chagas disease. Benznidazole is specifically indicated for use in pediatric patients 2 to 12 years of age for the treatment of Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis), caused by Trypanosoma cruzi. According to the CDC, Chagas disease is considered one of the neglected parasitic infections (NPI), a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action in the United States. Some side effects include:

  • stomach pain
  • rash
  • decreased weight
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abnormal white blood cell count

For the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia Pfizer introduced Besponsa (inotuzumab ozogamicin) and it was approved in August.

Besponsa is specifically indicated for the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Some side effects include:

  • infection
  • anemia
  • fatigue
  • hemorrhage
  • pyrexia
  • nausea
  • headache

Duzallo (lesinurad and allopurinol) from Ardea Biosciences was approved in August for the treatment of hyperuricemia associated with gout. Duzallo is specifically indicated for the treatment of hyperuricemia associated with gout in patients who have not achieved target serum uric acid levels with a medically appropriate daily dose of allopurinol alone. Side effects may include:

  • headache
  • influenza
  • blood creatinine increased
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • skin rash

Another treatment for sickle cell disease has been approved. Endari (L-glutamine oral powder) from Emmaus Life Sciences was approved in July 2017 to reduce the severe complications of sickle cell disease (SCD) in adult and pediatric patients age 5 and older. Side effects may include:

  • constipation
  • nausea
  • headache
  • abdominal pain
  • cough
  • pain in extremity
  • back pain
  • chest pain (non-cardiac)

For patients with Parkinson’s disease dyskinesia, Gocovri (amantadine) from Adamas Pharmaceuticals was approved in August. Gocovri is specifically indicated for the treatment of dyskinesia in patients with Parkinson’s disease receiving levodopa-based therapy, with or without concomitant dopaminergic medications. Adverse effects may include, but are not limited to:

  • hallucination
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • peripheral edema
  • constipation
  • fall
  • orthostatic hypotension

IDHIFA (enasidenib) from Celgene was approved in August for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia with IDH2 mutation. IDHIFA is specifically indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with an isocitrate dehydrogenase-2 (IDH2) mutation as detected by an FDA-approved test. Side effects may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • increased levels of bilirubin
  • decreased appetite

KedRab [Rabies Immune Globulin (Human)] from Kedrion Biopharma was recently approved for the post-exposure prophylaxis of rabies infection. KedRab is specifically indicated for passive, transient post-exposure prophylaxis of rabies infection, when given immediately after contact with a rabid or possibly rabid animal. Side effects may include:

  • injection site pain
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • upper respiratory tract infection

Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) from Novartis was approved in August for the treatment of refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Kymriah is specifically indicated for the treatment of patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is refractory or in second or later relapse. Some side effects include:

  • cytokine release syndrome
  • pyrexia
  • decreased appetite
  • headache
  • encephalopathy
  • hypotension
  • bleeding episodes
  • tachycardia
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • viral infectious disorders
  • fatigue
  • acute kidney injury

Mavyret (glecaprevir and pibrentasvir) by AbbVie was approved for the treatment of adult patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 infection without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis (Child-Pugh A). Mavyret is also indicated for the treatment of adult patients with HCV genotype 1 infection, who previously have been treated with a regimen containing an HCV NS5A inhibitor or an NS3/4A protease inhibitor (PI), but not both. Side effects include:

  • headache
  • fatigue

Solosec (secnidazole) by Symbiomix Therapeutics was recently approved for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis in adult women. Side effects may include:

  • vulvo-vaginal candidiasis
  • headache
  • nausea
  • dysgeusia
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • vulvovaginal pruritus

For adults with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy, Tremfya (guselkumab) from Janssen Biotech has recently been approved. Side effects could include:

  • upper respiratory infections
  • headache
  • injection site reactions
  • arthralgia
  • diarrhea
  • gastroenteritis
  • tinea infections
  • herpes simplex infections

Vabomere (meropenem and vaborbactam) from The Medicines Company has been approved for the treatment of adults with complicated urinary tract infections, including pyelonephritis caused by designated susceptible bacteria. Side effect may include:

  • headache
  • phlebitis/infusion site reactions
  • diarrhea

Verzenio (abemaciclib) from Eli Lilly was recently approved for the treatment of HR+, HER2- breast cancer. Verzenio is specifically indicated for use:

  • in combination with fulvestrant for the treatment of women with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer with disease progression following endocrine therapy;
  • as monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with HR-positive, HER2-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer with disease progression following endocrine therapy and prior chemotherapy in the metastatic setting. 

Side effects may include:

  • diarrhea
  • neutropenia and leukopenia
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • infections
  • fatigue
  • anemia
  • decreased appetite
  • vomiting
  • headache

For adult patients with newly-diagnosed therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or AML with myelodysplasia-related changes, Vyxeos (daunorubicin and cytarabine) from Jazz Pharma has been approved. Side effects may include, but are not limited to:

  • hemorrhagic events
  • febrile neutropenia
  • rash
  • edema
  • nausea
  • mucositis
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • musculoskeletal pain
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • dyspnea
  • headache
  • cough
  • decreased appetite
  • arrhythmia
  • pneumonia
  • bacteremia
  • chills
  • sleep disorders
  • vomiting

 

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Many of you are aware that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s an important time for all of us to be reminded of the importance of early detection. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women (after skin cancer). About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.

The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

  • If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
  • If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.

Talk to your doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.

Screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.

Certain screening tests may be suggested only for people who have a high risk for certain cancers. Anything that increases the chance of cancer is called a cancer risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer.

Some screening tests are used only for people who have known risk factors for certain types of cancer. People known to have a higher risk of cancer than others include those who:

  • Have had cancer in the past; or
  • Have a family history of cancer; or
  • Have certain gene mutations (changes) that have been linked to cancer.

People who have a high risk of cancer may need to be screened more often or at an earlier age than other people. Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.

What is a mammogram and what can I expect when I get one?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and allows your doctor see changes that can’t be felt during a breast exam. Mammograms use a very low level of x-rays, which are a type of radiation, but they are very safe.

If you have had any changes or problems with your breasts, talk to the technologist doing the mammogram. Also describe any medical history that could affect your breast cancer risk—such as surgery, hormone use, breast cancer in your family, or if you’ve had breast cancer before. Also,be sure to let the tech know if you’re breastfeeding or if you think you might be pregnant.

When you get mammograms, the nurse will place your breasts, one at a time, between two plastic plates and take pictures of them. Mammograms can be uncomfortable for some women, but they don’t hurt. The technologist will usually take at least two views of your breast and in some cases, may take three or four images to get a better view. Though the X-ray itself only takes a few seconds, the whole process takes about 20 minutes.

How to prepare for your mammogram:

  • Try to use a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day.
  • If possible, go to the same facility every time so that your mammograms can easily be compared from year to year.
  • If you’re going to a new or different facility, bring a list of the places and dates of mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatments you’ve had before.
  • If you’ve had mammograms at another facility, bring your old records with you (or have them sent there) so the old pictures can be compared to the new ones.
  • Schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort and get good pictures. Try to avoid the week just before your period.
  • On the day of the exam, don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you’re not going home afterwards, you may want to take your deodorant with you to put on after your exam.
  • You might find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.
  • Discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your healthcare provider before getting the mammogram.

Don’t be afraid of mammograms! Remember that only 2 to 4 screening mammograms in 1,000 lead to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Different tests can be used to look for and diagnose breast cancer. If your doctor finds an area of concern on a mammogram, or if you have symptoms that could mean breast cancer, you will need more tests to know for sure if it’s cancer or not.

Call your doctor and schedule your mammogram appointment today.

Sources: National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society

Fighting Teen Addiction

Addiction can happen at any age, but it usually starts when a person is young.  If your teen continues to use drugs despite harmful consequences, he or she may be addicted.

If an adolescent starts behaving differently for no apparent reason—such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is developing a drug-related problem. Parents and others may overlook such signs, believing them to be a normal part of puberty. Other signs that your teen may have a drug problem include:

  • a change in peer group
  • carelessness with grooming
  • decline in academic performance
  • missing classes or skipping school
  • loss of interest in favorite activities
  • trouble in school or with the law
  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • deteriorating relationships with family members and friends

Through scientific advances, we know more than ever before about how drugs work in the brain. We also know that addiction can be successfully treated to help young people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives. Intervening early when you first spot signs of drug use in your teen is critical; don’t wait for your teen to become addicted before you seek help. However, if a teen is addicted, treatment is the next step.

Repeated drug use changes the brain. Brain imaging studies of people with drug addictions show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Quitting is difficult, even for those who feel ready.

Asking for help from professionals is the first important step

You can start by bringing your child to a doctor who can screen for signs of drug use and other related health conditions. You might want to ask in advance if he or she is comfortable screening for drug use with standard assessment tools and making a referral to an appropriate treatment provider. If not, ask for a referral to another provider skilled in these issues.

You can also contact an addiction specialist directly.  There are 3,500 board-certified physicians who specialize in addiction in the United States.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine website has a Find a Physician feature on its home page, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder on its website. You and the physician can decide if your teen or young adult should be referred to treatment.

It takes a lot of courage to seek help for a child with a possible drug problem because there is a lot of hard work ahead for both of you, and it interrupts academic, personal, and possibly athletic milestones expected during the teen years. However, treatment works, and teens can recover from addiction, although it may take time and patience. Treatment enables young people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on their brain and behavior so they can regain control of their lives. You want to be sure your teen is healthy before venturing into the world with more independence, and where drugs are more easily available.

What to expect from a doctor visit
The doctor will ask your child a series of questions about use of alcohol and drugs, and associated risk behaviors (such as driving under the influence or riding with other drivers who have been using drugs or alcohol). The doctor might also give a urine and/or blood test to identify drugs that are being abused. This assessment will help determine the extent of a teen’s drug use (if any) and whether a referral to a treatment program is necessary.

There are medications available to treat addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and opioids (heroin and pain relievers). These are generally prescribed for adults but, in some circumstances, doctors may prescribe them for younger patients. When medication is available, it can be combined with behavioral therapy to ensure success for most patients. In addition, non-addictive medication is sometimes prescribed to help with withdrawal. Other medications are available to treat possible mental health conditions (such as depression) that might be contributing to your child’s addiction.

Your treatment provider will advise you about what medications are available for your particular situation. Some treatment centers follow the philosophy that they should not treat a drug addiction with other drugs, but research shows that medication can help in many cases.

You child’s treatment provider will probably recommend counseling. Behavioral treatment (also known as “talk therapy”) can help patients engage in the treatment process, change their attitudes and behaviors related to substance abuse, and increase healthy life skills. These treatments can also enhance the effectiveness of medications and help people stay in treatment longer.

Treatment for substance abuse and addiction can be delivered in many different settings using a variety of behavioral approaches. With adults, both individual therapy and group counseling settings with peers are used. However, studies suggest group therapy can be risky with a younger age group, as some participants in a group may have negative influence over the others, or even steer conversation toward stories about having fun with drugs. Some research suggests that the most effective treatments for teens are those that involve one or more family members present.

Whatever you do, do not ignore the warning signs of addiction. Getting your child help early-on can increase their chances of leading a productive life as an adult.

 

Source: National Institute of Health

September Health Tip: Flu Prevention

It’s the time of year when many people debate whether or not they should get a flu shot. If you are unsure if the flu shot is right for you, this information my help you decide.

Unlike a typical cold, the flu tends to come on suddenly, and the symptoms are much worse than just a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

Most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and often don’t need to see a doctor.

However, If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away. Taking antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours after you first notice symptoms may reduce the length of your illness and help prevent more-serious problems.

What causes the flu?

The flu is contagious—that means it spreads from person to person, often through the air. You can spread the infection before you feel sick and you are contagious for several days after you get sick. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a slightly longer time. You can catch the flu when someone near you coughs or sneezes. Or, if you touch something the virus is on, like a phone, keyboard, or doorknob, and then touch your nose or mouth, you could catch the flu. The flu virus can live on a surface like a book or doorknob for a number of hours. Remember to wash your hands often when you are around someone who is sick. Make a point of washing them before eating or touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you can, stay away from sick people. That will help stop the flu from spreading.

Influenza viruses are constantly changing, with new strains appearing regularly. If you’ve had influenza in the past, your body has already made antibodies to fight that particular strain of the virus. If future influenza viruses are similar to those you’ve encountered before, either by having the disease or by vaccination, those antibodies may prevent infection or lessen its severity.

But antibodies against flu viruses you’ve encountered in the past can’t protect you from new influenza subtypes that can be very different immunologically from what you had before.

What makes someone more at risk for the flu?

Factors that may increase your risk of developing influenza or its complications include:

  • Age. Seasonal influenza tends to target young children and older adults.
  • Living conditions. People who live in facilities along with many other residents, such as nursing homes, college dorms, or military barracks, are more likely to develop influenza.
  • Weakened immune system. Cancer treatments, anti-rejection drugs, corticosteroids and HIV/AIDS can weaken your immune system. This can make it easier for you to catch influenza and may also increase your risk of developing complications.
  • Chronic illnesses. Chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart problems, may increase your risk of influenza complications.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to develop influenza complications, particularly in the second and third trimesters. Women who are two weeks postpartum are also more likely to develop influenza-related complications.
  • Obesity. People with a BMI of 40 or more have an increased risk of complications from the flu.

If you’re young and healthy, seasonal influenza usually isn’t serious. Although you may feel miserable while you have it, the flu usually goes away in a week or two with no lasting effects. But high-risk children and adults may develop complications such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma flare-ups
  • Heart problems
  • Ear infections

Pneumonia is the most serious complication. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly.

Getting a flu vaccine shot every year can help you stay healthy and keep you from getting the flu. Medicare will pay for the shot, and so will many private health insurance plans. You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or one of our pharmacies.  A flu shot won’t keep everyone healthy. But, getting the flu shot every year can mean that if you do get the flu, you might have only a mild case.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people age 50 and older should get a flu shot every year. Anyone who lives with or takes care of people age 50 and older should also have a flu shot every year.

It takes at least 2 weeks for your shot to start working, so try to get your flu shot as early as September or October through early November for the best chance at prevention. Most people have no problem with a flu shot. In fact, for most people, the flu is far more dangerous than the flu shot.

When you get the flu shot, your arm might be sore, red, or a bit swollen. These side effects may start shortly after getting the shot and can last up to 2 days. They should not get in the way of your daily activities. A few people do have a headache or a low-grade fever for about a day after they get the shot. The flu shot cannot cause you to get the flu.

If you are allergic to eggs, you should not get the flu shot. Because eggs are used to make the flu vaccine, people who are allergic to eggs could have a serious reaction to the shot.

Stop by our stores in Rocky Point and Hampstead during our normal business hours Monday – Saturday to get your flu shot. No appointment is necessary. Rather than risk it, get your flu shot today!

Healthy Eating Habits for Kids

Sometimes it’s a battle, right? Feeding your kids food that they will eat, but that’s also healthy and nutrient rich. Teaching good eating habits is important to instill in the early years so that kids will grow into healthy teens and adults.

According to a study from Iowa State University, almost one in two children in the U.S. is either overweight or obese. That is about half of the kids in America! Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help your kids develop healthy eating habits:

  1. Remove temptation. Keep very few high-fat, high-calorie snack foods in the house. Instead, stock up on healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts, carrots and air-popped popcorn. Keep these snacks readily available and save cookies and other treats for special occasions.
  2. Don’t use food as a reward. Doing this teaches children that some foods are better or more valuable than others. It can also help set up an unhealthy relationship with food.
  3. Teach kids to identify hunger. Much of our eating these days is in response to “emotional” hunger such as stress, anxiety, boredom or loneliness, rather than physical hunger. Help your child recognize “hunger cues” and “non-hunger cues” by asking if he or she is really hungry before automatically providing a snack. Sometimes reading a book, playing outside or doing some other activity is a better alternative than turning to snacks.

When packing lunches for young kids, think contrast and variety. Using lots of colors, textures and shapes makes lunches more tempting for little ones.

  1. Color: Include foods with at least two colors from the rainbow along with neutral colors from grains, meats and dairy products. Baby carrots, string cheese, and grapes add color and are fun to eat.
  2. Texture: Include soft foods, such as bread, rice or pasta along with something crunchy or crisp, such as fresh fruits and veggies, chopped nuts, etc.
  3. Shapes: Perk up a lunch box by cutting sandwiches and other foods into strips or triangles. Consider adding foods that naturally come in interesting shapes, such as cauliflower “clouds” or sliced bell pepper “rings.”

How do you know if your elementary school aged child is getting proper nutrition? Should she be taking a multivitamin?

Multivitamins aren’t necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Regular meals and snacks can provide all the nutrients most young children need.

While many children are picky eaters, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have nutritional deficiencies. Many foods, including breakfast cereal, milk, and orange juice, are fortified with important nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and iron. So your child may be getting more vitamins and minerals than you think.

Furthermore, multivitamins aren’t without some risks. Megadoses of vitamins and minerals can be toxic. In addition, some vitamins and minerals can interact with medications your child may take.

Talk with your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about whether your child is getting the recommended level of vitamins and minerals. A multivitamin might be helpful for your child if he or she:

  • Has a delay in physical and developmental growth
  • Has a poor appetite and very erratic eating habits
  • Has certain chronic diseases or food allergies
  • Has a restrictive diet, such as a strict vegan diet

If your child’s doctor recommends a multivitamin, choose one that is designed for your child’s age group and doesn’t provide more than 100 percent of the Daily Value of vitamins and minerals. Keep multivitamins out of your child’s reach and make it clear that they aren’t candy.

 

Sources: Iowa State University; University of California, Davis; American Academy of Pediatrics; Mayo Clinic

Breastfeeding and Vitamin Deficiency

Are you a new mother who is breastfeeding? Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding infants because it provides babies with ideal amounts of necessary nutrients and immune factors. Though breastfeeding is great for babies, it does it not provide infants with an adequate intake of vitamin D or B12, and it also increases a mother’s need for vitamin B12.

Vitamin D
Breastfed infants are able to get additional vitamin D through routine sunlight exposure (just like children and adults). However, a major public health effort is underway to decrease the risk of skin cancer by encouraging people to limit their sunlight exposure. Plus, there are reports of cases of vitamin D deficiency causing softening and weakness in the bones (also called rickets) among breastfed infants in the United States. Though rare, the Vitamin D deficiency rickets among breastfed infants can occur if the baby does not receive additional vitamin D from a vitamin supplement or from adequate exposure to sunlight.

A number of factors decrease the amount of vitamin D a person will synthesize from sunlight. These factors include:

  • Living at high latitudes i.e., farther from the equator; particularly during winter months
  • Air quality conditions: high levels of air pollution
  • Weather conditions: dense cloud covering
  • The degree to which clothing covers the skin
  • Use of sunscreen
  • Skin pigmentation: darker skin types

To ensure proper intake, a supplement of 400 IU per day of vitamin D is recommended for all breastfed infants. Adequate amounts of vitamin D can be easily provided by currently available liquid vitamin products—giving a boost to the levels found naturally in breast milk. For babies who are not being breastfed, the good news is that  infant formula is required to have 400IU of vitamin D added to every liter.

Not only is vitamin D important for newborns, it’s also important for children and adolescents.  Taking a multivitamin product containing 400 IU of vitamin D per mL or taking 400 IU/mL vitamin D alone without other vitamins will help them get their recommended daily allowance.

Recent research highlights the importance of Vitamin D for everyone. Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to cancer, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. While infants and small children are the focus of the clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, lactating mothers should also consider taking supplemental Vitamin D. It is unlikely for a person to obtain adequate vitamin D from natural dietary sources alone. Food sources for Vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Fish liver oils
  • Eggs (small amount of vitamin D)
  • Artificially fortified products (milk, margarine, breakfast cereals, juice)

Vitamin B12
Breastfeeding women have a higher need for vitamin B12, compared to most other adults (including pregnant women). Mild vitamin B12 deficiencies are common since the developing fetus used up much of the mother’s stores of the vitamin during pregnancy. Mild vitamin B12 deficiencies are probably not a cause for much concern. However, a severe deficiency in a breastfeeding woman can lead to a severe deficiency in her infant/child.

Some women are at higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiencies than others. Women who are strict vegetarians or vegans, and women who have undergone bariatric weight loss surgery are at particular risk.

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in foods of animal origin. It can also be round in plant-based foods that have been fortified. The best dietary sources of Vitamin B12 are:

  • Organ meats, some game meats
  • Fish (sardines, trout and herring)
  • Fortified ready to eat cereals
  • Milk (cooking greatly reduces the content)
  • Fortified meal replacement shakes
  • Shellfish

While many women have no difficulty getting plenty of vitamin B12 through a healthy diet, it is probably a good idea for most breastfeeding women to take a multivitamin containing B12. The recommended dietary intake (RDA) based on the dietary reference intake (DRI) for vitamin B12 in breastfeeding women is 2.8 mcg per day compared to 2.6 mcg per day for pregnant women and 2.4 for most other adults. The requirements for vitamin B12 are based on the amount needed to maintain good blood count values. While the RDA is good for preventing deficiencies in most women, much higher doses are required to treat a deficiency. While many women have no difficulty getting plenty of vitamin B12 through a healthy and well- balanced diet, it is probably a good idea for most women to take supplemental vitamin B12 in the form of a prenatal vitamin. Such supplementation is safe, and the consequences of a deficiency can be quite severe.

In children and adults Vitamin B12 deficiencies can lead to hematological, neurological and gastrointestinal conditions.

Vitamin B12 deficiency in an infant can cause:

  • Anemia
  • Irritability
  • Failure to thrive
  • Poor appetite
  • Apathy
  • Developmental delays
  • In severe cases it can eventually lead to death

You should talk with your healthcare provider about vitamin D and B12 and breastfeeding. Each mother-baby situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation and that of your infant, the two of you can make a shared decision about vitamin supplements and breastfeeding that is right for you.

 

Why is it important to take your medication?

Skipping, modifying or ignoring your medication can be bad for your health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed by their doctor. Are you taking your medications as prescribed?

Medication adherence, or taking medications correctly, is generally defined as the extent to which patients take medication as prescribed by their doctors. This involves factors such as getting prescriptions filled, remembering to take medication on time, and understanding the directions.
Common barriers to medication adherence include:

  • The inability to pay for medications
  • Disbelief that the treatment is necessary or helping
  • Difficulty keeping up with multiple medications and complex dosing schedules
  • Confusion about how and when to take the medication

Poor adherence can interfere with the ability to treat many diseases, leading to greater complications from the illness and a lower quality of life for patients. Here are some examples of areas in which medication adherence can pose challenges, along with tips for taking medications correctly and talking with your doctor or pharmacist about your questions and concerns.

Taking your medication as prescribed can possibly:

  • Improve survival
  • Decrease symptoms
  • Prevent hospitalization
  • Lower costs

So, it’s important to follow the directions that are on your prescription bottle. For example:

  • Take your medicine the right way. The label may say to take twice daily, or with or without food.
  • For the right amount of time. If your prescription says to take until finished, or do not abruptly stop taking it; follow those instructions.
  • Take the right amount. If you are to take 2 tablets twice a day, don’t adjust and take more thinking it will make you feel better, or take less thinking it will last longer. If your prescription is in a liquid form, be sure to get a dosage cup so you know exactly how much to pour each time and avoid the teaspoon vs. Tablespoon confusion.
  • Take it at the right time. You may be instructed to take your medicine at bedtime, or early in the morning.

Our pharmacists can help you stay on track with your prescriptions be offering these services:

  • Auto Refill: We will call you when your refills are due.
  • Medication Sync: We can align all of your medications to fill once a month.
  • Blister Packing: We can put your prescribed doses in blister packs to make remembering to take (and if you took) your medications easier.
  • Mobile App: Use our app to scan and refill your prescriptions.
  • Texting: We can text you when your prescription is ready.
  • Drive-thru or Curbside Service: Our Rocky Point location features a Drive-thru and our Hampstead location offers curbside service for your convenience.
  • Spanish Translation: Hablamos Español.

If you have any questions about our medication, please ask a pharmacist. And be sure your doctor and pharmacist know all the medications you are taking. It could save your life!

Child ID Kits are here!

According to FBI crime statistics, there are nearly 650,000 missing kids reported every year in the United States. As part of our back-to-school safety initiative, we are providing FREE Child ID Kits at both of our stores. More information about the kit is found below, but that’s just part of keeping our kids safe. We as parents know that the world can be a scary place and we don’t even like to think about the possibility of something bad happening to our kids. Part of educating our kids beyond reading and writing is instilling good safety habits.

Here are some tips to begin building a strong foundation of safety awareness:

  • Talk about safety with you child in ways that teaches them to use caution and be aware of their surrounding.
  • Encourage your child to trust their intuition and let them know they can come to you and tell you when something feels wrong.
  • Do they know their name and address? Be sure they know their full name, address and phone number, as well as where you work and your phone number. Also teach them to dial 911 in an emergency.
  • Teach your child the rules about strangers. Let them know that adults should not ask children for help, and adults should never threaten children. Make sure your child understands they should never go anywhere with an adult they don’t know — even if it is to help them find their missing puppy.
  • Never label clothing, backpacks or personal items with your child’s name or information. This is an easy way for a stranger to approach your child and pretend to know your child and gain their trust.
  • Teach your child what to do if they get lost or separated from you in a public place. Make a point to show them where to meet if they can’t find you and show them adults they can approach if they are in trouble, like police officers, firefighters, or store clerks if they get lost in a department store.
  • Let your child know that their body belongs to them. No one has the right to touch them inappropriately. If someone is making them feel uncomfortable, let them know to tell you right away.
  • Do you know where your child is? It sounds simple, but with the busy lives that we live and everyone seeming to be going in different directions, it’s easy to lose track. Keep a list of your child’s activities, and addresses and phone numbers for places they frequent. So, in the event of an emergency you, friends, or family can get to them quickly.
  • Create a secret Code Word. Tell your child that if anyone approaches them and says they are a family friend, they must ask for the code word. If the person is really a friend, they will know the word. If they don’t know the code word, tell you child to run away as quickly as possible.
  • Remember to update your child’s records every few months. Younger children grow and change quickly and even small changes in height, weight and hair styles can significantly alter their appearance. Most people have phones with a camera, so take frequent pictures of them. It’s also a good idea to note any birthmarks, scars or other identifying marks in addition to their physical characteristics like hair and eye color.

There is no waiting period required to report a missing child to the police.

In the event your child does go missing, it’s important to have the latest and most up-to-date identification records for them. Many lost and abducted children can be recovered if parents can provide police with a complete record of identification. The Child ID Kits that are available at our stores will help parents create a confidential and comprehensive record of their child’s personal and medical information to immediately give to police. Every second is important when searching for missing children and most of us would not be thinking clearly if such an event should occur. This FREE kit will help save time and speed up the search process.

Each kit is individually packaged in a heavy gauge, clear, protective plastic sleeve and contains:

  • A 1”x 5” non-toxic fingerprinting ink strip
  • A heavy gauge freezer-safe bag for a DNA hair sample or cheek swabs
  • Space to record complete contact, personal, medical, and physical information
  • Space to store a 4” x 6” photograph
  • A 10-finger fingerprint chart
  • Dental charts for permanent and baby teeth
  • Two pages of essential educational safety tips

Store the booklet in a safe, accessible place, and update it annually (or every few months if you have small children).

Come by our store in Hampstead or Rocky Point and get your free kit today!

Bone Density

The older you get the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bones are brittle, weak and more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. There are no signs or symptoms of osteoporosis. You might not know you have the disease until you break a bone. That’s why it’s so important to get a bone density test to measure your bone strength.

A bone mineral density (BMD) test is like an x-ray or scan of your body. A bone density test estimates the true mass of the bone. It doesn’t hurt, and you don’t need to do anything to prepare for it. It only takes about 15 minutes. By measuring BMD, it is possible to predict fracture risk. A BMD test is recommended for all women between the ages of 50 and 65 with risk factors such as family history, bone structure and body weight, and ethnicity, to name a few. The test is recommended for all women over the age of 65. Men and women who take certain medications or have certain diseases should talk to their doctor about having a bone density test, too. Men over 65 who have concerns about osteoporosis, should talk to their doctor about a bone density test.

  • About 40% of postmenopausal women in the U.S. have osteopenia (low bone density). An additional 7% have osteoporosis (substantially low bone density).
  • One in three women and one of five men over the age of 50 will experience a bone fracture related to osteoporosis.
  • About 33% of people who suffer a hip fracture are totally dependent or in a nursing home in the year following the fracture, stressing the importance of early detection and appropriate therapy.
  • Osteoporosis has many available prescription and nonprescription treatment options once the diagnosis is made.

These things can also increase your risk for osteoporosis:

  • Hormone changes (especially for women who have gone through menopause)
  • Not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol
  • Not getting enough physical activity

If you have osteoporosis, you can still slow down bone loss. Finding and treating this disease early can keep you healthier and more active, lowering your chances of breaking a bone.

Get enough calcium.
Calcium helps keep your bones strong. Good sources of calcium include:

  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli and greens
  • Tofu with added calcium
  • Orange juice with added calcium
  • Calcium pills

Get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Your body makes vitamin D when you are out in the sun. You can also get vitamin D from:

  • Salmon or tuna
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt with added vitamin D
  • Breakfast cereals and juices with added vitamin D
  • Vitamin D pills

Get active.
Physical activity can help slow down bone loss. Weight-bearing activities (like running or doing jumping jacks) help keep your bones strong.

  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. If you are new to exercise, start with 10 minutes of activity at a time.
  • Do strengthening activities at least 2 days a week. These include lifting weights or using resistance bands (long rubber strips that stretch).
  • Find an exercise buddy or go walking with friends. You will be more likely to stick with it if you exercise with other people.

You don’t need special equipment or a gym membership to stay active. Check with your local community center or senior center to find fun, low-cost, or free exercise options.

If you have a health condition or a disability, be as active as you can be. Your doctor can help you choose activities that are right for you.

Stay away from cigarettes and alcohol.

Smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol can weaken your bones. Find ways to stop smoking. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.

Take steps to prevent falls.

Falls can be especially serious for people with weak bones. You can make small changes to lower your risk of falling, like doing exercises that improve your balance. For example, try walking backwards or standing up from a sitting position without using your hands.

It’s never too late to get on the right track to being and staying healthy!