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Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

A cold or the flu can strike anytime, but they do have a more active season.

For colds, that season usually coincides with the school calendar, starting in late August or early September, then increasing in the first few weeks and remaining high until March or April, when it goes down.

Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and November. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and March and can last as late as May.

The most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is simple: wash your hands. A common way to catch a cold is by rubbing your nose and eyes after you’ve come in contact with a contaminated surface. Think door knobs, light switches, shopping carts, or contact with another person. So, washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap is the best way to stop a cold or flu before it starts.

Other good health practices are not sharing cups or silverware, and cleaning  commonly used surfaces like doorknobs, and faucets.Don’t forget to clean your cell phone, too.

Along with good hygiene, certain foods are known to boost your immune system. Try including some of these foods and vitamins with your meals and snacks.

Garlic may give your immune system a boost by increasing resistance to infection and stress. Its antioxidant properties goes after free radicals in the body.

Yogurt and other cultured milk products contain probiotics which contain beneficial bacteria that have shown potential immune-boosting benefits. Look for the “live active culture” seal, which indicates that probiotics have been added.

Also, check milk product labels for vitamin D. Early research suggests low levels of vitamin D may be linked to a seasonal increase in colds and flu and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.

I’m sure you have heard that taking vitamin C helps you feel better when you have a cold. It’s true—research suggests that taking high doses of vitamin C may help shorten the time you are sick by a day or more. Vitamin C acts as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory to help dry up a runny nose. It also helps your immune system find and destroy viruses. When you are sick, or under a lot of stress, it only increases your body’s need for vitamin C. When looking for a vitamin C supplement, get one that contains bioflavinoids’ antioxidants found in citrus fruits, tea, and other foods.

Zinc is one of the most critical minerals for overall immune function and has been shown to reduce the time you have a cold. Zinc is found in meat, chicken, peanuts and peanut butter. It’s also found in lozenges as a cold fighter. While taking it won’t help you prevent a cold, taking  zinc lozenges every two hours within the first two days of a cold can decrease its duration.

Fresh ginger root can help you when you are sick by decreasing nausea and vomiting. The anti-inflammatory gingerols and shaogals in ginger root will help to relieve a sore throat quickly, and they also kill rhinoviruses, which cause colds in the first place. Drink three or more cups daily until you are well. You can also drink the same ginger tea to warm up on a very cold winter day. Make ginger tea by grating one ounce of fresh ginger in a pint of water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste.

Chicken soup, long known as a cold remedy, is likely effective because it contains any number of the above foods and their accompanying vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The aroma and cozy warmth can’t hurt, either.

Healthy bodies have an easier time fighting off infection. Not only are washing hands, avoiding germs, and eating the right foods important, but a few more things can help, too.

Moderate physical activity also has positive effects on the immune system. Over time, this means catching fewer colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.

Getting plenty of rest, decreasing stress and cutting back on unhealthy habits like smoking and over consuming of alcohol will also boost your immune system.

If you do come down with a cold or flu, stay home so you don’t get others sick. Use tissues when you sneeze or blow your nose, and wash your hands often. To feel better, drink lots of fluid, eat immune-boosting foods, and get plenty of rest. If symptoms worsen, or last longer than a few days, contact your doctor.


Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Tramatic brain injuries (TBI) are most well known to affect athletes, but they can impact anyone. A TBI occurs when physical, external forces impact the brain either from a penetrating object or a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. For the ones that do, TBIs can range from mild (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to severe (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of TBIs and occur most frequently among the youngest and oldest age groups. From 2006 to 2010 alone, falls caused more than half (55 percent) of TBIs among children aged 14 and younger. Among Americans age 65 and older, falls accounted for more than two-thirds (81 percent) of all reported TBIs.

Unintentional blunt trauma includes sports-related injuries, which are also a major cause of TBI. Overall, bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer result in the most TBI-related emergency room visits. The cause of these injuries does vary slightly by gender. According to the CDC, among children age 10 to 19, boys are most often injured while playing football or bicycling. Among girls, TBI occur most often while playing soccer or basketball or while bicycling. Anywhere from 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related TBIs are estimated to occur in the United States annually.

Adults age 65 and older are at greatest risk for being hospitalized and dying from a TBI, most likely from a fall. TBI-related deaths in children aged 4 years and younger are most likely the result of assault. In young adults aged 15 to 24 years, motor vehicle accidents are the most likely cause. In every age group, serious TBI rates are higher for men than for women. Men are more likely to be hospitalized and are nearly three times more likely to die from a TBI than women.

The effects of TBI can range from severe and permanent disability to more subtle functional and cognitive difficulties that often go undetected during initial evaluation. These problems may emerge days later. Headache, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue tend to start immediately after an injury, but resolve over time. Emotional symptoms such as frustration and irritability tend to develop later on during the recovery period. Many of the signs and symptoms can be easily missed as people may appear healthy even though they act or feel different. Many of the symptoms overlap with other conditions, such as depression or sleep disorders. If any of the following symptoms appear suddenly or worsen over time following a TBI, especially within the first 24 hours after the injury, people should see a medical professional on an emergency basis.

People should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • loss of or change in consciousness anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours
  • decreased level of consciousness, i.e., hard to awaken
  • convulsions or seizures
  • unequal dilation in the pupils of the eyes or double vision
  • clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • nausea and vomiting
  • new neurologic deficit, such as slurred speech; weakness of arms, legs, or face; loss of balance

Other common symptoms that should be monitored include:

  • mild to profound confusion or disorientation
  • problems remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
  • headache
  • light-headedness, dizziness, vertigo, or loss of balance or coordination
  • sensory problems, such as blurred vision, seeing stars, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • mood changes or swings, agitation (feeling sad or angry for no reason), combativeness, or other unusual behavior
  • feelings of depression or anxiety
  • fatigue or drowsiness; a lack of energy or motivation
  • changes in sleep patterns (e.g., sleeping a lot more or having difficulty falling or staying asleep); inability to wake up from sleep

Studies suggest that age and the number of head injuries a person has suffered over his or her lifetime are two critical factors that impact recovery. For example, TBI-related brain swelling in children can be very different from the same condition in adults, even when the primary injuries are similar. Brain swelling in newborns, young infants, and teenagers often occurs much more quickly than it does in older individuals. Evidence suggests that younger people (ages 20 to 40) tend to have behavioral and mood change, while those who are older (ages 50+) have more cognitive difficulties.

Compared with younger adults with the same TBI severity, older adults are likely to have less complete recovery. Older people also have more medical issues and are often taking multiple medications that may complicate treatment (e.g., blood-thinning agents when there is a risk of bleeding into the head). Further research is needed to determine if and how treatment strategies may need to be adjusted based on a person’s age.

The best treatment for TBI is prevention. According to the CDC, doing the following can help prevent TBIs:

  • Wear a seatbelt when you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  • Wear the correct helmet and make sure it fits properly when riding a bicycle, skateboarding, and playing sports like hockey and football.
  • Install window guards and stair safety gates at home for young children.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Improve lighting and remove rugs, clutter, and other trip hazards.
  • Use non-slip mats and install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower for older adults.
  • Use handrails on stairways.
  • Use a cane or walker to provide stability for older adults as needed.
  • Improve balance and strength with a regular physical activity program.
  • Ensure children’s playgrounds are made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.

We have a number of Nova at-home safety equipment at our stores. From shower benches and grab bars, to canes and walkers, we can help make your home safer.

Top Tips for Family Caregivers

November is National Caregivers Month—an important time to remember to take care of yourself when taking care of family members.

Top Tips for Family Caregivers

Seek support from other caregivers.

Consider joining a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online. Meeting other caregivers can relieve your sense of isolation and will give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas. The Cape Fear Council of Governments offers several support groups for caregivers here in the Wilmington area.

Take care of your own health.

Caregivers need to pay attention to physical and emotional symptoms that can affect your own health and well-being.  You need to guard against caregiver burnout and avoid becoming overly tired and exhausted, which can reduce your own body’s ability to ward off illness. Try to create balance between caring for others and caring for you. A few ways to do this include:

  • Take a daily vitamin supplement
  • Get exercise — make it a priority for both your mental and physical well-being
  • Get regular check-ups and do not ignore possible symptoms of ill health
  • Get a flu shot
  • Laugh with a friend

Accept offers of help and ask for help.

Asking for help doesn’t come easy for caregivers. You are used to being the one taking care of others, and not wanting to reach out and ask for help. Try making a list of your responsibilities, then divide them up into categories of tasks that others may be able to help you complete. For example, household chores, transportation to appointments, or running errands are tasks that others may be able help with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people don’t know what you need, but would love to help as able. They might not be able to take your loved one to a doctor appointment, but they can run to the grocery store or vacuum for you.

Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.

Sharing information with the doctor about current symptoms of the person you are caring for is helpful (especially if they cannot effectively communicate themselves). Writing down information and questions ahead of time, will also help you remember what you want to tell the doctor. Be sure to let them know if they are having trouble with daily activities like bathing or dressing, or any changes in behavior.

If the doctor does not specifically ask for information you think is important, then tell them. Asking questions when you don’t understand something the doctor says is perfectly fine, too. Writing down instructions or any information during the appointment will help you remember what they say once you get home.

Ask the doctor to write down what you should do between now and the next visit. This may include instructions for how to take medications, or lifestyle modifications that are necessary.

Watch for signs of depression and caregiver burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude—from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able—either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.

Take respite breaks often.

Consider giving yourself the gift of respite, or rest, temporarily, from your caregiving duties. If you are able to manage it financially, many senior living facilities offer short term care for an elder so that family caregivers can take a break, get away, or just have freedom from the responsibility for a bit. Often, the senior living facility will care for your elder for a weekend, or a week, without further obligation to move in or sign on for any other services. A nice place to stay, meals, socialization and sometimes special events are all made available to the elder. You pay by the day, or weekend, or week, according to how the facility creates respite care for those who do not live full time in the facility.

Stay organized.

The single most important thing you can do to function effectively as a caregiver is to create and maintain a comprehensive file of information about the person you are caring for. There is a variety of ways to create and maintain a patient file. Some people prefer paper, some electronic, some a combination of both. You can keep this information in any form that works best for you, although most people simply put it in a binder or folder. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to work for you. The important thing is that it provides easy access and can be efficiently updated and shared when needed.

What should go in the Patient File?

  • Care recipient’s medical history
    • Diagnosis
    • Physician Contact Information
    • Allergies
    • Health history (e.g. surgeries, other medical conditions)
  • Medication List
    • Using one pharmacy is the best way to keep current on prescription medication history.
    • Using a local pharmacy will also help keep the pharmacists in touch with the needs of the patient and be a support system for you as the caregiver, too.
  • Insurance Information
    • Private medical insurance
    • Prescription plan
    • Medicare/Medicaid
    • Long-term care insurance
    • Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Legal Documents
    • Living Will
    • Durable power of attorney for Health Care (also known as a Health Care Proxy)
    • Power of Attorney for Finances
    • Contact information for care recipient’s lawyer
  • Financial Documents
  • Bills
    • Utilities
    • Household maintenance payments
    • Medical fees
    • Other recurring expenses
  • Deeds
  • Mortgage papers and ownership statements
  • Loan agreements
  • Stock and bond certificates and statements
  • Pension, 401(k) and other retirement benefit statements
  • Bank and brokerage account information
  • Insurance policies
    • Long-term disability
    • Healthcare
    • Home
    • Auto, etc.
  • Social Security payment information if Social Security or Social Security disability already has been secured
  • Pay stubs if the individual was working prior to the impairment
  • State and federal income tax returns
  • Medical records

And last, but not least, give yourself some credit!
This is one of the most important jobs you will ever do, so take the well-deserved credit for doing the best that you can!


The Health Benefits of Gratitude

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Have an attitude of gratitude”. But, do you know that it goes beyond being thankful, and that there are actual health benefits of gratitude?

According to scientific research there are numerous benefits of gratitude.

Gratitude makes us happier. Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career. Gratitude make us more optimistic, less materialistic, more spiritual, less self-centered, and more self-esteem—all of which leads to more happiness.

Gratitude makes our memories happier and bounce back from stress more quickly. Ever think back to a negative memory that you can’t seem to get past? In one study, putting people in a grateful mood helped them find closure for certain negative memories. Those that have more gratitude have more proactive coping skills, are more likely to have and seek social support in times of need, are less likely to develop PTSD, and more more likely to grow as a person in times of stress. Gratitude helps make us more resilient.

Gratitude opens doors for more relationships. It also makes use more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.

One way that marriages suffer is when passion fizzles, and partners become less appreciative and well, more naggy. Scientists have actually created an appreciation to naggy ratio, called the Losada ratio. It divides the number of positive expressions (support, encouragement, and appreciation) divided by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism). When the ratio was below .9 (11% more negative than positive expressions) marriages deteriorated and headed toward divorce. The marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positive ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).

Gratitude helps you be a better and more effective manager. Expressions of gratitude have been found to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism are slightly demotivating. You can be the boss and be grateful. It is not a sign of weakness when you express thanks or give praise for a job well done. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude in the workplace will make it a more productive and more enthusiastic environment.

Gratitude makes you healthier. You are more likely to take better care of yourself by exercising more and attend regular check-ups with your doctor, which is likely to contribute to further longevity. According to several studies from 2003 – 2009, the following results were documented:

For those keeping a gratitude journal–

  • 16% had fewer physical symptoms
  • 19% more time spent exercising
  • 10% less physical pain
  • 25% improved quality of sleep.

In another study, patients with hypertension were instructed to count their blessings once a week. There was a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure.

No, gratitude cannot cure cancer or other diseases, but it can increase your physiological functioning. Positive emotion improves improves your health by improving your mind. For example, faster recovery from certain medical procedures, and positive changes in immune system functioning.

Consider starting your own journal of gratitude and focus on what you are grateful for this holiday season. You might surprise yourself in knowing you have more positive than negative things going for you.

We are grateful for all of you and hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

How to get Medicare Drug Coverage

Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare. If you decide not to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) when you’re first eligible, or if you decide not to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage, you’ll likely pay a late enrollment penalty unless you have other creditable prescription drug coverage, or you get Extra Help. Many people are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, when they reach 65 years of age.

To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.

There are two ways to get drug coverage:

  1. Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). These plans (sometimes called “PDPs”) add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
  2. Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage. You get all of your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage, and prescription drug coverage (Part D), through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called “MA-PDs.” You must have Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Find a Medicare Drug Plan

How to join a drug plan

Once you choose a Medicare drug plan, here’s how you may be able to join:

  • Enroll on the Medicare Plan Finder or on the plan’s website.
  • Complete a paper enrollment form.
  • Call the plan.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

When you join a Medicare drug plan, you’ll give your Medicare number and the date your Part A and/or Part B coverage started. This information is on your Medicare card.

Your actual drug plan costs will vary depending on:

  • The drugs you use
  • The plan you choose
  • Whether you go to a pharmacy in your plan’s network
  • Whether the drugs you use are on your plan’s formulary
  • Whether you get Extra Help paying your Medicare Part D costs

Joining a Medicare drug plan may affect your medicare advantage plan.

If your Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) includes prescription drug coverage and you join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), you’ll be disenrolled from your Medicare Advantage Plan and returned to Original Medicare.

What does a Medicare drug plan cover?

Each Medicare drug plan has its own list of covered drugs (called a formulary). Many Medicare drug plans place drugs into different “tiers” on their formularies. Drugs in each tier have a different cost. A drug in a lower tier will generally cost you less than a drug in a higher tier. Sometimes, if your prescriber thinks you need a drug that’s on a higher tier, you or your prescriber can ask your plan for an exception to get a lower copayment.

A Medicare drug plan can make some changes to its formulary during the year within guidelines set by Medicare. If the change involves a drug you’re currently taking, your plan must do one of these:

  • Provide written notice to you at least 60 days prior to the date the change becomes effective.
  • At the time you request a refill, provide written notice of the change and a 60-day supply of the drug under the same plan rules as before the change.

Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D is October 15 – December 7. Our pharmacists are here to help answer all of your Medicare Part D questions. We can even help you enroll! Please ask for assistance for you or a loved one—we are here to help!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled. November is Diabetes Awareness Month and it’s our opportunity to educate our customers about the risks and how you can prevent this deadly disease.

One in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. And another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. What is even more alarming is that 1 in 4 people don’t know they have diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system, the body’s system for fighting infection, attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Scientists think type 1 diabetes is caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that might trigger the disease. They are working to pinpoint causes of type 1 diabetes and possible ways to prevent or slow the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and caused by several factors, including lifestyle factors and genes. The good news? People who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy changes. These changes include: eating healthy, getting more physical activity, and losing weight.

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are not physically active and are overweight or obese. Extra weight sometimes causes insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2 diabetes. The location of body fat also makes a difference. Extra belly fat is linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart and blood vessel disease.

Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin well. As a result, your body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells. At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to keep up with the added demand. Over time, the pancreas can’t make enough insulin, and blood glucose levels rise.

As in type 1 diabetes, certain genes may make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The disease tends to run in families and occurs more often in these racial/ethnic groups:

  • African Americans
  • Alaska Natives
  • American Indians
  • Asian Americans
  • Hispanics/Latinos
  • Native Hawaiians
  • Pacific Islanders

Genes also can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing a person’s tendency to become overweight or obese.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can start quickly, in a matter of weeks. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly, over the course of several years, and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart trouble.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss

In addition to managing blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and not smoking, people with diabetes need to make healthy food choices, stay at a healthy weight, move more every day, and take their medicine even when they feel good. Research has shown that these efforts can dramatically lower the risk of many diabetes-related health problems, including heart, kidney, nerve, and eye diseases. Having a network of support can help people with diabetes cope with the daily demands that come with diabetes and help them be more successful in managing their health.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to diabetes care. Developing realistic goals, such as taking breaks for short walks during the day if you are too tired to be active in the evening, can help you manage your diabetes in a way that works for you.

Sometimes certain medicines can harm beta cells or disrupt the way insulin works. These include:

  • niacin, a type of vitamin B3
  • certain types of diuretics, also called water pills
  • anti-seizure drugs
  • psychiatric drugs
  • drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV )
  • pentamidine, a drug used to treat a type of pneumonia
  • glucocorticoids—medicines used to treat inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, and ulcerative colitis
  • anti-rejection medicines, used to help stop the body from rejecting a transplanted organ

Statins, which are medicines to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, can slightly increase the chance that you’ll develop diabetes. However, statins help protect you from heart disease and stroke. For this reason, the strong benefits of taking statins outweigh the small chance that you could develop diabetes.

If you take any of these medicines and are concerned about their side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Gender Differences in Addiction and Treatment

Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illegal drugs and misuse of prescription drugs. And resulting trips to the emergency room and overdose deaths are more common for men than women. For most age groups, men have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to become addicted and be more susceptible to cravings and relapse, which are key phases of the addiction cycle.

Although men are more likely than women to report both a mental health and substance use disorder, women are more likely to suffer from certain mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder—or PTSD, and eating disorders. Some women report using substances to relieve stress or negative emotions. In addition, women are more vulnerable to developing substance use or other mental health disorders following divorce, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner or child.

It’s important to note that substance use disorders may progress differently for women than for men. Women often have a shorter history of abusing certain substances such as cocaine, opioids, marijuana, or alcohol. However, they typically enter substance use disorder treatment with more severe medical, behavioral, psychological, and social problems. This is because women show a quicker progression from first using the substance to developing dependence.

Withdrawal may also be more intense for women. In some cases, women respond differently than men to certain treatments. For instance, nicotine replacement (patch or gum) does not work as well for women as for men.

It can be hard for any person with a substance use disorder to quit, but women may face unique  social issues when it comes to substance abuse and treatment. Many women who are pregnant or have young children do not seek treatment or dropout of treatment early because they are unable to take care of their children. These women may also fear that authorities will remove their children from their care. The combined burdens of work, home care, child care, and other family responsibilities, plus attending treatment frequently, can be overwhelming for many women. Successful treatment may need to provide an increased level of support to address these needs.

Scientists who study substance use have discovered special issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause that can impact women’s struggles with drug use. In addition, women themselves describe unique reasons for using drugs, including controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and self-treating mental health problems.

  • Women use substances differently than men, such as using smaller amounts of certain drugs for less time before they become addicted.
  • Women can respond to substances differently. For example, they may have more drug cravings and may be more likely to relapse after treatment. This could be affected by a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs.
  • Women who use drugs may also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels.
  • Brain changes in women who use drugs can be different from those in men.
  • Women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from overdose or other effects of certain substances.
  • Women who are victims of domestic violence are at increased risk of substance use.
  • Divorce, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner or child can trigger women’s substance use or other mental health disorders.
  • Women who use certain substances may be more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety, or depression.

Substance use during pregnancy can be risky to the woman’s health and that of her children in both the short and long term. Use of some substances can increase the risk of miscarriage and can cause migraines, seizures, or high blood pressure in the mother, which may affect the baby. In addition, the risk of stillbirth is two to three times greater in women who smoke tobacco or marijuana, take prescription pain relievers, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy.

If you or someone you love has an addiction problem, please seek medical and behavioral therapy for treatment.


Drug Take Back Day


Village Pharmacy hosts Drug Take-Back Day on October 25, 2017

Hampstead, NC (October 23, 2017) – In conjunction with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office, Village Pharmacy in Hampstead, NC will host a Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 25, 2017.

The Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications. Bring us your unused or expired prescription medications so they can be properly disposed. Help do your part in keeping our community safe.

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Village Pharmacy
The Beacon
14057 Hwy 17
Suite 100
Hampstead, NC 28443

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.


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