Ask a Pharmacist

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
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At Tria Health, our pharmacists are here for you! They are always happy to answer any of your medication-related questions. For August, we’ve compiled some of our more popular questions, along with our pharmacists’ answers.

Is it possible for my medication to lose its effectiveness over time?

Yes. Medications may lose potency and effectiveness over time. Unless the bottle suggests otherwise, always consider the expiration date of a prescription medication one year following the fill date. If you filled a prescription on July 1st 2017 it should be considered expired and a new prescription will be necessary on July 1st 2018.

Do generic drugs work just as well as the brand name versions?

Yes. Generic medications contain the same active medicine and are safe and effective alternatives to brand name products. In order to receive F.D.A approval, generic medications must prove that they are equivalent to the brand name medication.

Is it safe to take slightly expired medication?

Taking a medication that is slightly expired is unlikely to cause harm, but it is possible that it may not work as well and in general it is best to acquire a new prescription if your medication is expired.

How can you tell if a medication is expired?

If the medication was filled more than 12 months ago or the listed expiration date on the bottle has passed consider the medication as expired.  In addition, if the appearance of the medication has changed this may be an indication of an expired product. If you have an injectable solution or oral suspension that has changed colors or consistency this might indicate a new prescription is needed.

 

If you have any additional questions regarding your medications,

reach out to the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Ask a Pharmacist – Allergy Edition

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
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Allergy season is here! To help you out, we’d like to share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers.

 

How can I tell if I have allergies or just a common cold?

Symptom Cold Allergy
Cough Usually Sometimes
General aches and pains Sometimes Never
Fatigue and weakness Sometimes Sometimes
Itchy eyes Rarely Usually
Sneezing Usually Usually
Sore Throat Usually Rarely
Runny Nose Usually Usually
Stuffy Nose Usually Usually
Fever Sometimes Never

How do steroid nasal sprays work?

Steroid nasal sprays are an effective treatment for most allergy symptoms.  Steroid nasal sprays reduce the allergic response of the cell types that induce allergies, mainly mast cells and eosinophils.   This results in a reduction of runny nose, postnasal drip, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itching.

Do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots are injections you receive at regular intervals over a period of 3-5 years to reduce allergy attacks.  Each allergy shot contains a tiny amount of the substance that trigger your allergic reactions, called allergens.  By adjusting the dose and your exposure to allergens, your immune system builds up tolerance to the allergen and your symptoms diminish over time.

 Can you take allergy pills and nasal spray together?

Yes.  For patients with severe allergy symptoms who cannot achieve symptom resolution with either one by itself, you can combine allergy pills and nasal sprays.  In general, steroid nasal sprays are the single most effective treatment for allergy symptoms, however, if you continue to experience troublesome symptoms with consistent use of a steroid spray you can add an over the counter antihistamine such as generic Claritin (loratadine), generic Zyrtec (cetirizine), or generic Allegra (fexofenadine).

 

Have any other questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk:

1.888.799.8742

Ask a Pharmacist

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
Image Source: iStock.com/macrovector

Thanks to the Tria Health Help Desk, patients may ask pharmacists any medication-related questions. We’d like to share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers

Question: Is it OK to take leftover antibiotics to treat a current infection?

Answer: No! The antibiotic might not treat the type infection that you have and might not be the full course of therapy required. Additionally, taking antibiotics inappropriately may also cause antibiotic resistance, making it harder to treat future infections.

Question: How do I know what kind of vitamins I should take?

Answer: It would depend on your diet, lifestyle, and other medical conditions. Taking a multivitamin is a great place to start. If you have concerns about being vitamin deficient, talk with your doctor about checking certain vitamin levels.

Question: Which over-the-counter allergy products are safe to use during pregnancy?

Answer: Both Zyrtec and Claritin are safe to use during pregnancy. Make sure these products do not carry any other active ingredients, like pseudoephedrine. Talk with your doctor or your Tria pharmacist before starting any over the counter allergy product.

Question: I recently started a new medication and have had a stomach ache ever since. Am I allergic to the drug?

Answer: Stomach aches are not a sign or symptom of a medication allergy. It is usually a side effect of the drug. Try to take the medication with food to help avoid stomach upset.

 

Do YOU have a question for our pharmacists?

Enroll with Tria Health and schedule your appointment today!

Call 1.888.799.8742 or visit www.triahealth.com/enroll

Tria Health: February Ask a Pharmacist Edition

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
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Tria Health would like to thank our followers for such positive feedback from our last “Ask a Pharmacist Edition.” Since then, we have seen even more questions coming through to our Help Desk. To better serve our audience, clients and patients, we will continue answering some of our most Frequently Asked Questions.

Because it’s cold and flu season, this month we’re going to focus on the questions that will help you get through these next few months.

Question: What basic items should be stored in a well-stocked medicine cabinet?

Answer: Here are a few essentials to stock your medicine cabinet to treat common problems.

  • Pain relievers
    • Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve.  Remember the generic versions work just as well and will save you money.   If you have children in the home be sure to have children’s formulations as well, ask your pharmacist if you need help calculating the right dose for the little ones.
  • Over the counter medications for minor stomach ailments
    • Products like Pepto-Bismol can treat a variety of minor stomach symptoms. Medications like Tums or Rolaids can help with periodic heartburn symptoms. Mild laxatives, such as Colace or Senna, can help with constipation.
  • Cold, Flu and Allergy Relief
    • Antihistamines and cough suppressants are good to have on hand for common cold and flu symptoms. To make sure that you are targeting the right symptom with the right medication consult your pharmacist. Some common brands we recommend include Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra.
  • First Aid Kit
    • It’s always important to be able to treat household injuries, be sure to have Band-Aids and Neosporin available for cuts and abrasions.

Please don’t forget the importance of checking expiration dates on over-the-counter medications. Expired medications can lose their effectiveness. Additionally, remember the importance of properly disposing any expired medications.

Question: Why don’t I need antibiotics when I have a cold?

Answer: The common cold is almost always caused by viruses, not bacteria. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics and they typically run their course after a few days. Your best course of action is symptom management, pushing fluids, and rest—these are key to combating a virus. Additionally, over-use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance which makes true bacterial infections harder to treat.

Question: Is it true that you can alternate Tylenol and Ibuprofen for fevers?

Answer: That is true. If you are combatting a high fever, alternating doses of Tylenol and ibuprofen every 2-3 hours is an effective way to keep the fever down. Always talk with a healthcare professional to ensure you are using the proper doses at the proper interval.

Question: Why do I have to take all my antibiotics if I feel better after a few days?

Answer: The symptoms associated with a bacterial infection will almost always resolve even before the bacteria is completely out of your system. While you may feel significantly better after only a few doses of an antibiotic, it is crucial to complete the full course of treatment. If the bacteria is not completely eliminated it can return and develop resistance to antibiotics which will make it harder to treat the second time around.

Do YOU have a question for our pharmacists?

 If so, please comment below or call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742, and we’ll gladly answer in next month’s “Ask A Pharmacist Edition.” 

Tria Health: Ask A Pharmacist Edition

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
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The Tria Health Pharmacists love their careers and the work that they do! They have a unique opportunity to counsel patients about their medical conditions, prescription medications, , over-the-counter medications and supplements, as well as their lifestyle, which all play an important role in managing health. This service is called Chronic Condition Management (CCM).

The CCM Difference that Tria Health offers is more comprehensive than medication management or disease management solutions. It is a patient-centered solution that values individual uniqueness and focuses on increasing engagement; improving health outcomes and delivering a return on investment!

Because medication plays an important role in chronic condition management, Pharmacists are key to improving health outcomes and, in many cases, saving patients money!

Tria Health also offers a patient help desk, so patients may ask pharmacists any medication-related questions.

To highlight our fabulous clinical team, we thought we’d take this public and share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers!

FAQ

Question: When is the best time to take my medicine?

Answer:

Some medications do have a specific time that is “best” to be most efficacious. For example, a cholesterol lowering medications, such as a “statins”, are best taken at bedtime due to much of the body’s cholesterol synthesis occurring in the evening. Therefore, taking statins at bedtime has the most cholesterol lowering effect. Another example, thyroid medications are best taken on an empty stomach separated from other medications and foods by 30-60 minutes to be best absorbed. Thyroid medications will bind or adhere to other foods and medications which would therefore decrease the absorption. As wonderful as efficacy is, the most important thing is to be as consistent as possible when taking your medications. Consistently taking your medications means taking them the same time each day, with or without food. Our lives can be hectic, between work, kids, volunteering, THE HOLIDAYS, etc. and sometimes remembering to take your medication AT ALL each day, let alone with the most “efficacious” measures, can be a challenge. Medication doses will be adjusted based on your regular and most updated lab work. So, the bottom line is, consistency is key!

Question: What can I take for my cough?  It is keeping me up all night. 

Answer:

If cough is productive increase humidity in the bedroom and try to increase fluids.  Delsym or Robitussin 12-hr Cough are both great options at night to suppress cough. They contain dextromethorphan only so you are not getting a bunch of other ingredients that aren’t needed.  Try NOT to suppress a productive cough during the day.  Mucinex during the day can help thin mucus and allow for easier clearing of congestion.

Question:  My supplements are all-natural, so they should be totally safe, right?

Answer:

Not all supplements are safe for all people even though they might be “all-natural”.  Certain supplements or vitamins can increase risk of bleeding or cause interactions with other medications and lead to serious side effects.  It is always a good idea to check with a pharmacist or doctor before starting any vitamins or supplements to ensure they are safe.

Tria Health offers solutions to improve cost and care for patients, employers & their broker partners.

 Do you have a question for a pharmacist? Comment below and they will happily answer!