Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a long-term lung condition of the airways (the passage that transports air into our lungs).  At the moment, there is no cure, but it can be managed.

People suffering from this condition have sensitive airways. These airways become inflamed (also known as a flare-up) when they are exposed to triggers. When the airways become inflamed, the narrowing airways cause significant, persistent and troublesome symptoms. This often caused breathing difficulties, as it is equivalent to breathing through a very thin tube. In addition, it leads to a medical emergency.

An flare-up can come on slowly over hours, days or even weeks, or quickly over minutes.

What are the symptoms?

People with asthma experience symptoms because of the inflammation and narrowing of their airways. Symptoms often vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are:

  1. Persistent cough, irrespective of sound it makes.
  2. Wheezing – high pitch whistling sound made by narrowing of airways
  3. Breathing difficulties – sometimes the signs of airways tightening does not result any sounds (silent asthma) we are familiar with such as wheezing and coughing.
  4. Tightening of chest / Chest pain

Common types of Asthma

  1. Allergic asthma – caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, food items and mould
  2. Non-allergic asthma – caused by irritants such as viruses, air particles from smoke, cleaning products, perfumes and aerosal products
  3. Occupational asthma – caused by workplace triggers such as chemicals, animal proteins, fumes etc.
  4. Exercise-induced asthma – usually caused by physical activities
  5. Noctural asthma – symptoms that worsen at night, possible cause includes dust mites, heartburn or sleep cycle

Using inhalers correctly

Using your asthma or COPD inhaler properly is important, with the right technique you can be sure the medicine will get to where it needs to.
 
The following link has educational videos on all the different types of inhalation devices to help ensure you and your family are using the best techniques to get the most out of your medicines.

Hand Care

How to protect your skin

Proper hand washing is the first line of defence against infections. However, frequent hand washing can lead to dry, cracked, painful and itchy skin which may lead to an infection. This is especially true for those people suffering from skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Dry skin is caused by an impaired skin barrier and a deficiency in the healthy fats in the top layer of the skin.

Here are a few tips for protecting your skin from drying out:

1. Dry your hands properly

After washing your hands, it is important to dry them properly. Not only are germs easily transferred between wet hands, but water has a drying effect on the skin. When water evaporates it reduces the skin’s natural oils.

2. Avoid using hot water for handwashing

Make sure you use warm rather than hot water. It is also a good idea to wear latex or rubber gloves when washing the dishes, and when using cleaning products that may dry out the skin, for example bathroom cleansers or shampoos when washing your child’s hair.

3. Regularly use a moisturiser

Frequent use of hand sanitisers and soaps can strip the proteins in the top layer of the skin. When
this happens you may experience dryness, itching and even cracking or bleeding. Your skin might
feel like its burning. Frequent moisturising helps to avoid dermatitis and heal rough hands, locking the moisture inside. You should use a moisturiser throughout the day and especially when your hands feel dry. To prevent spreading germs, it’s a good idea to carry your own personal tube of moisturiser rather than sharing a jar of it with others. Moisturising while you sleep can also be effective. Simply apply the moisturiser in a thick layer and then put on a pair of thin cotton gloves. If you use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, it’s important to moisturise afterwards. You can speak to your community pharmacist about moisturisers that are suitable for your skin.

4. Emollient soap substitute

Emollient soap substitutes can be used as an alternative to soap when washing your hands, but be aware that they are not recommended as effective against COVID-19 and you should still use soap or alcohol-based hand sanitiser to clean your hands even if you have a skin condition. Your community pharmacist can recommend a suitable treatment for your skin. After washing your hands, rinse and make sure to pat dry rather than rub.

5. Fragrances and preservative
Fragrances and preservatives in soaps, hand lotions, ointments and creams can dry your skin out and make it sore or itchy if you’re sensitive to them. If the product you’re using is making you
uncomfortable, you can speak to your community pharmacist about suitable alternatives.

World Immunisation Week

World Immunization Week – celebrated in the last week of April (24 to 30 April) – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.

Key messages

  1. At all ages, vaccines save lives and keep us safe
    Vaccines protect our children across communities and countries and prevent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Responding to outbreak after outbreak is expensive, ineffective and costs lives. The only sustainable response is prevention ─ by ensuring that everyone is vaccinated, at the right time, with the right vaccines through the course of their lives.
  2. While most children today are being vaccinated, far too many are left behind
    Unacceptably, it’s often those who are most at risk – the poorest, the most marginalized, those touched by conflict or forced from their homes – who are persistently missed. If these children do get sick, they are at risk of the severest health consequences, and least likely to access lifesaving treatment and care.
  3. Everyone can be a vaccine champion
    Talk to people about the benefits of vaccines. Vaccines save lives, help children learn and grow and prevent serious illness and disability.

Know the facts about vaccines

  • Vaccines defend us against deadly diseases. They do this by working with our body’s natural defenses to stop us from getting sick. It is a safe and clever way to produce a protective response, helping to keep us healthy, safe and strong.
  • Two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us. Not everyone can be vaccinated ─ including infants who are too young to be vaccinated, older people who are at risk of serious diseases and those who are seriously ill. They depend on others getting vaccinated to ensure they are also protected through vaccines.
  • All the ingredients in a vaccine help ensure they are safe and effective for you and your family. Vaccine ingredients can look unfamiliar when listed on a label but they occur naturally in the human body, the natural environment and the foods we eat.
  • It is important to get the vaccines you need – on time, every time. Don’t wait until you are exposed to a serious illness – like during an outbreak. There may not be enough time to receive all the vaccine doses needed to keep you safe from the disease.

Hygiene and Coronavirus

With the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus, we just thought we would take some time to go over some basics that can help keep you and your family safe.

Symptons:

Coronavirus can present with symptoms similar to that of the flu.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

Prevention

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses, including Coronavirus.

Some tips from the World Health Organisation

Whooping Cough & MMR

Our pharmacists have been working and studying hard to be able to provide as much care to our members as possible, and now that we have multiple pharmacists able to vaccinate we thought now would be a good time to talk about the immunisations that we can provide.

For a small administration fee plus the cost of the medicine it has never been easier to safeguard your family against these preventable diseases.

Whooping Cough

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease.

Symptoms that include fever and long periods of coughing that sound like a ‘whoop’.

Whooping cough can affect people of all ages, but it is more serious for babies. Babies have the highest risk of serious disease. They are more likely to need to go to hospital or die from whooping cough. About one in every 200 babies under 6 months old who get whooping cough dies from pneumonia or brain damage.

Whooping cough can be prevented by immunisation.

Measles, Mumps & Rubella

Immunisation is the best protection against measles, mumps & rubella.

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine helps protect you against the following diseases:

Measles – causes a cough, high fever, rash, ear infection, conjunctivitis and swelling of the brain

Mumps – causes fever, headache, tiredness, and swelling of the salivary glands, ovaries or testicles

Rubella (German measles) – causes a rash and swollen glands, but infection in pregnancy can result in the baby being born with severe disabilities.

Caring for your Skin

Dermatitis is a general term which means skin inflammation. It can be an acute condition where it only lasts for a few days, or it can be chronic, which can continue for months or years. Dermatitis is usually characterised by itchy, red, dry skin. Chronically, it can lead to rough, thick skin and painful cracks in the skin.

Contact dermatitis

This is an irritation/allergic reaction caused by substances that have come in contact with the skin.

  • Types of allergens: Nickel (eg. jewellery) perfumes, latex.
  • Types of irritants: Detergents, soaps, and chemicals. Irritant contact dermatitis often occurs on a persons’ hands and is related to his or her job.

Dermatitis can be an acute condition where it only lasts for a few days, or it can be chronic, which can continue for months or years.

Atopic dermatitis

This type of dermatitis may be inherited and often occurs in people with a family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever. It usually begins in early childhood, and often affects the face, neck and creases of the elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. This condition can also flare-up because of stress, allergies, dry skin, and weather changes.

Treatment

Skin moisturisers are very important. They help to relieve itch, prevent drying and cracking, and restore the skins’ protective role. These are to be applied especially after bathing, and make sure to not use perfumed products.

Corticosteroids relieve skin inflammation. Whilst topical preparations are the most common type of treatment, your doctor may prescribe you tablets if needed to control severe dermatitis.

Tar preparations are available from your pharmacist and can relieve inflammation and itch.

Antihistamines are available from your pharmacist and can relieve itching. Sedating antihistamines may be especially useful at night to help with sleep.

Immunosuppressants are prescription-only medication that weaken the immune system and may be needed to control severe chronic dermatitis.

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Shining a light on PTSD

Happy New Year Everyone!

In this edition, I felt that it was important to talk about a topic that can sometime be swept under the carpet, but I believe it’s important to bring it out into the open and increase its’ awareness.

PTSD! Post-traumatic stress disorder is a long lasting and sometimes delayed anxiety disorder caused by a traumatic event (such as physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or a serious accident). Most people who are exposed to a very disturbing or distressing event have strong feelings and reactions, such as fear, sadness, guilt, or grief in the first days and weeks after the event. With the support of family and friends, most people recover in a few weeks. But some people develop the longer lasting condition PTSD, and need professional help.

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Re-living the traumatic event through unwanted and repeated memories. This leads to strong emotional or physical reactions such as sweating and a fast heartbeat.
  • Being very wound up which may lead to sleeping problems and feeling irritable.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event/s.
  • Having a loss of interest in daily life; feeling separated from family and friends.

With the support of family and friends, most people recover in a few weeks. But some people develop the longer lasting condition PTSD, and need professional help.

The aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms, improve family and social life, and get stable employment. This can be done by joining support groups, getting support from family members, and getting counselling. It is also very important to seek professional advice, such as paying a visit to your doctor who will be able to point you in the right direction and prescribe the appropriate treatment when needed.

Remember, asking for help is an important aspect of PTSD. If you ever need any advice on medication, please do not hesitate in visiting us at one of our Friendlies stores to have a chat to 1 of our dedicated Pharmacists.

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Christmas: The Season of Overindulgence

On average, Australians gain 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period, and researchers have identified that this weight is rarely lost! This weight mainly occurs around the trunk, which is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

So why not follow the following tips to help prevent you purchasing a larger belt in the new year.

  • Eat something light before heading out to a party, thereby reducing your chances of snacking on high calorie food.
  • Watch your portion sizes by using a smaller plate of food instead of a dinner sized plate. This is great if you are the type of person that likes to finish everything in front of them.
  • Fill up with foods at the bottom of the Healthy Eating Pyramid (eg. Vegetables, legumes, fruit and grain foods).

Great party food to enjoy

  • Vegetable sticks, pretzels, rice crackers
  • Hummus, beetroot, tzatziki, avocado dip
  • Sushi
  • Sandwiches, quiches
  • Fruit salad with yoghurt

Naughty party food to limit

  • Creamy dips
  • Pies, sausage rolls, spinach triangles
  • Chips, corn chips
  • Lollies, candy canes, chocolates
  • Cakes and slices with cream

It’s also important to limit your alcohol intake, as over-consuming can lead to weight gain. According to the Department of Health and Ageing,  for healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks in any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime.

On average, Australians gain 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period! This weight mainly occurs around the trunk, which is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease..

If you choose to drink

  • Watch your serving size.
  • Be careful with top-ups. Topping up your glass can lead to you losing count of the amount you have been drinking.
  • Alternate one alcoholic drink with one non-alcoholic drink such as water.

EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE (if you can)!!

  • Get a gym membership.
  • Set yourself a challenge for the new year (yes, it’s called a new year resolution, but this time seriously go for it).
  • Run around with the kids at home.

So, there we are, some useful tips on how to safely and enjoyably get through the joyful season. Take it easy and don’t succumb to gluttony.

Lastly, the Warwick Friendly Society Pharmacies would like to send out a massive THANK YOU to all our wonderful loyal customers that stick by our side and support us all year round. We would also like to thank all the people we deal with on a day to day basis that enable us to deliver the best health services we can. Thank you to all our dedicated staff that work hard every single day for us to operate a service that is essential and appreciated by the local community and surrounds.

Have a very Merry Christmas and we shall see you in the New Year.

 

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“Grow a Mo, save a Bro”

That’s what we’re doing during the month of November here at the Friendlies Pharmacies.

The mission of The Movember Foundation is to stop men dying too young. Whilst mens’ health incorporates many different aspects, we will be talking about Prostate and testicular cancer on this occasion.

As with anything else, if prostate cancer is detected early, survival rates can be better than 98%, but if detected late, they can be as low as 26%. Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but that doesn’t mean it’s a disease that only affects old men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Men who are of African or Caribbean descent, and men who have a family history (a brother or father with prostate cancer), are 2.5x more likely to get prostate cancer.

If prostate cancer is detected early, survival rates can be better than 98%

Some signs and symptoms are:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Testicular cancer is the second most common cancer affecting men aged 18 to 39.

Men with undescended testes at birth, or who have a family history, like a father or brother who has had testicular cancer, are at an increased risk. And if you’ve had testicular cancer before, there’s also a heightened risk it could return.

So, if you have any health queries, please make sure you see your doctor as soon as is possible, as early diagnosis could save your life.

The Friendlies pharmacies will be doing their part and growing a Mo (attempting). Please support us by visiting our Facebook page and donating.

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Arthritis

The joints in our body are a magnificent part of our infrastructure, but what happens when they deteriorate and affect our daily lives.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, where the cartilage breaks down and wears away. This leads to narrowing of the space between the bones, which causes them to rub against each other, causing pain.

Other symptoms are:

  • Stiff joints
  • You can’t bend the joint as much as before
  • Joint swelling

There is no cure for Osteoarthritis, but lifestyle changes, mechanical aids (eg. Hand rails, tap turners), and surgery may help. Some tips on managing/preventing the deterioration of your joints:

  • Regular exercise can reduce pain and make your joints more flexible.
  • Warmth around the joint (eg. A heated pool) can help you move more easily.
  • Keep to a healthy weight to limit the load on your hips and knees.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for too long.
  • Ask a physiotherapist or podiatrist for advice on suitable footwear to help reduce joint stress.

There is no cure for Osteoarthritis, but lifestyle changes, mechanical aids (eg. Hand rails, tap turners), and surgery may help.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis may also be relieved by a number of different medicines. Please consult your trusty Friendlies Pharmacist or doctor for any advice.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where your own immune system attacks your body, resulting in damage to joints and organs. Whereas OA affects the cartilage in the joints, RA usually damages the lining of the joints. Also, RA mainly affects the smaller joints in the hands and feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body at the same time.

Most common symptoms are:

  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Constant tiredness
  • Warm, red, swollen, painful joints
  • Loss of joint motion

The management of RA can incorporate the expertise from doctors, pharmacists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and dieticians. Apart from the vast array of medication available for the relief of symptoms, there are other tips that can be incorporated into your day to help manage your Rheumatoid arthritis such as:

  • Using cold packs on affected joints to relieve hot and swollen joints (please seek the advice of your doctor on when to use hot or cold therapy)
  • Keeping to a healthy weight
  • Not smoking, as it can worsen RA. Smokers are also more likely to get RA

Well here it is, a short rundown on 2 common types of arthritis. For more information or advice on arthritis or any other health matter, call or visit on of our pharmacies.

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