Tria Health: February Ask a Pharmacist Edition

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

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.” 

Raspberry Ketones – The Miracle Diet Pill?

Promises of miraculous fat burning capabilities have turned raspberry ketones into a multi-million dollar product. This compound found in red raspberries has been traditionally used by the perfume and manufactured food industries to produce a berry-like scent.

Health care providers have turned a curious eye to this “miracle drug” and found two studies in mice and one small study in humans to support its medical use. The human study evaluated the use of topical raspberry ketone cream on hair growth and skin elasticity.  There are no human studies evaluating the use of this supplement as a weight loss aid.

Raspberry ketone supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so manufacturers are not required to produce clinical studies that prove its safety and efficacy, rather, they can make claims about its effectiveness without having the actual data to prove its merit.

Physicians and pharmacists utilize medications that have gone through large, placebo-controlled, blinded studies that provide scientific proof that a medication is both safe and effective.  Applying this model to raspberry ketones, we have no proof (i.e. large placebo-controlled, blinded human studies) that tells us whether or not this supplement actually results in weight loss.

The prescription for weight loss remains the same, a reasonable diet with fruits and vegetables and 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 5 days per week.  Until data becomes available, diet and exercise trumps raspberry ketones.

If you have questions, call the Tria Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742.

Limit the Tylenol

Many prescription pain medications are combination products that contain varying amounts of Tylenol, or acetaminophen.  In the past, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not placed limits on the amount of Tylenol that is included in these combo products.  That is changing as the FDA is asking manufacturers of these medications to limit the amount of Tylenol per pill to 325mg.

Excessive amounts of Tylenol can lead to serious liver damage.  If you are taking a prescription pain medication that contains Tylenol, it is important to avoid the use of over the counter products that contain acetaminophen (the same active ingredient as Tylenol).  Acetaminophen is available in a variety of over the counter remedies, including numerous cough and cold products.

Look and Ask!  Look at the active ingredient listing on all over the counter products and ask your pharmacist if you have any questions.

New Year’s Resolution: Maintain a HEALTHY Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one of the most prevalent health conditions seen in the United States.  Elevated blood pressure leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and death if undetected.

High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

New guidelines state:

  • People < 60 years old have a blood pressure goal of < 140/90 mmHg
  • People > 60 years old have a blood pressure goal of < 150/90 mmHg

How to achieve and maintain healthy blood pressure:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet can help keep your blood pressure down. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetable in addition to foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.  Also limit amount of daily caffeine found in coffee, teas and soda.
    High sodium is a known culprit for increasing blood pressure.  Try to decrease the amount of sodium you add to you foods.  Be aware that many processed foods (including canned soups and frozen “healthy” meals) and restaurant meals are high in sodium.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can help you lower your blood pressure.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week.
  • Stop smoking!  Smoking increases your blood pressure while increasing your risk of heart disease, cancer and breathing complications

If lifestyle changes are not enough to keep your blood pressure at goal, medications may need to be added.  Usually one medication is started and the dose is increased until you are able to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure.  A second or even third medication may need to be added if blood pressure remains elevated after one month of treatment.

If you have questions, call the Tria Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742.

Know Your Pharmacists, Know Your Medicine.

October is National Pharmacy Month!

As experts in medications, Pharmacists provide important guidance to patients and physicians to ensure that individuals have safe, effective and affordable medications. With increasingly complicated regiments and access to over the counter and herbal medications, the involvement of a pharmacist within a person’s health care team continues to grow more important. Tria Health believes that the pharmacists are an integral part of the health care process.  This month we celebrate the talented pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who support these efforts.  It is with this mission that we want to inspire our community to “Know Your Pharmacists, Know Your Medicine.”

There are key pieces of information that everyone should know about the medications they are taking.  The first tip is to always have a complete and accurate list of medications including over the counter, vitamins and herbal supplements that you are taking on hand at all times.  This is incredibly important to have when you meet with any healthcare provider.  Connect with your Tria Pharmacist today to ensure that you have an accurate medication list.