Emergency Preparedness - medications, ScriptSave WellRx

by Leah Samera
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2018

Ready, a public service campaign designed to educate and empower citizens to prepare for emergencies such as natural and man-made disasters, proclaims September to be National Preparedness Month (NPM). In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, you may be wondering how to go about preparing for such events. This is especially important to consider if you have a chronic disease or condition.

Illness Follows Disaster

Studies have found that upwards of 70% of the Hurricane Katrina survivors had at least one chronic condition. Additionally, 58% of the visits to emergency treatment facilities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina were due to illness, 24% of which were associated with chronic diseases. The research on disasters’ effects on chronically ill patients only serves to reinforce the fact that these emergency situations can lead to both exacerbation and death from chronic illnesses due to direct stress of the disaster, interruption of care, or both.

Emergency Plans and Kits

Organizations like the American Red Cross recommend having an emergency plan and kit prepared for use during a disaster. Some obvious items that should be included in such a kit are water, food, and first aid supplies. However, it is also critical that you have a 7-day supply of your medications on hand as well as any other tools or devices used for your health such as hearing aids with extra batteries, syringes, blood pressure cuffs, et cetera. In order to have at least a 7-day supply of your medications, you must order refills of your prescription medications as soon as you are able rather than before you run out. It is best to keep these items together and in a location that is easy to get to in an emergency.

Planning Ahead

Medications should be stored away from heat, light, and moisture; if possible, keep them in their original bottles and store the bottles in a waterproof bag or container. If you have medications such as insulin that need refrigeration, have a freezer pack and cooler available. It is also important to stay up-to-date on all immunizations, including tetanus, especially if you have diabetes. Additionally, because the stress of these disasters can exacerbate your conditions, it is best to also make appropriate lifestyle changes such as restricting salt intake if you have high blood pressure or learning the carbohydrate counting approach if you have diabetes.

Other Handy Emergency Items

Other items that you should have handy in case of an emergency include any over-the-counter medications you may need like pain relievers, as well as your medication list and insurance card. It is important to keep an up-to-date medication list that not only catalogs the names of your current medications but also their strengths, indications, directions, and prescribers; any bad or allergic reactions you may have had to medications in the past should also be documented. Your prescription benefit card may be needed for approval of an emergency supply if you run out of or lose your medications, or if your medications get damaged or contaminated.

In the event that you end up requiring medications and health resources:

  • RxOpen.org maps open and closed pharmacies, American Red Cross shelters, and infusion centers in areas affected by disasters.
  • The charity Direct Relief provides free prescription drugs and medical supplies to low-income patients at community health centers or clinics.
  • Keep a list of nearby pharmacies and hospitals as well as their phone numbers.

By doing what you can to prepare for disasters, you can lower your risk of exacerbations of your health conditions. As the theme for NPM states: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”

References:

  • National Preparedness Month. https://www.ready.gov/september. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  • Kessler RC, Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the care of survivors with chronic medical conditions. J Gen Intern Med. 2007;22(9):1225–1230. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219784. Accessed September 8, 2017.
  • Sharma AJ, Weiss EC, Young SL, et al. Chronic disease and related conditions at emergency treatment facilities in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2008;2(1):27–32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18388655. Accessed September 8, 2017.
  • Be Prepared for an Emergency. Be Red Cross Ready! http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  • Emergency Preparedness for Prescription Medications. http://www.mayo.edu/pmts/mc6000-mc6099/mc6012-39.pdf. Published 2016. Accessed September 7, 2017.

Are you concerned Hurricane Irma
may impact your prescription refills?
The State Law may be on your side; early refills are permissible.

For medications not covered by insurance,
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Doctor speaking to patient about medications

TUCSON, AZ–(Marketwired – Aug 9, 2017) – VUCA Health announced today that ScriptSave, a provider of prescription savings solutions and decision support tools helping close the gaps in prescription coverage, will employ its on-demand medication video library to improve medication information and drive better care outcomes for ScriptSave WellRx members.

ScriptSave’s prescription savings program, along with VUCA’s innovative video service, will work together to increase prescription medication adherence by providing patient education in an easy to consume format, thus improving care while enhancing and simplifying the member experience.

Improving Medication Adherence

“It is well documented that two of the key pillars for medication adherence are providing access to affordable medications and the information they need to feel empowered about taking them,” said Shawn Ohri, Vice President, Business Development, ScriptSave. “By implementing VUCA’s on-demand video library, our members can receive accurate health information, in a format that is easy to understand and accessible anytime, anywhere.”

In partnering with VUCA, ScriptSave WellRx members will have access to a robust library of prescription-specific video briefings that deliver information on top-prescribed medications, including proper usage, expected benefits and potential side effects. The videos, available in English and Spanish, are integrated into the ScriptSave WellRx mobile app and website.

“VUCA’s innovative visual education paired with the latest advances in technology is helping individuals across the United States understand how to practice safe administration of their prescription medication,” said VUCA Health CEO David Medvedeff, PharmD, MBA. “By coupling this service with applications like ScriptSave WellRx, members can instantly access their medication information and leverage valuable resources to enhance their overall medication experience.”

About ScriptSave

For more than two decades, ScriptSave has been closing the gaps in healthcare and prescription coverage with innovative savings programs, like ScriptSave WellRx, for the uninsured, under-insured, and insured. Pharmacies, employers, health plans, and other organizations across the nation rely on ScriptSave to deliver prescription savings to their members and customers — yielding $1.3 billion in consumer savings in 2016 alone.

ScriptSave WellRx is recognized and approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®). Our pharmacy recognition lets consumers know that ScriptSave WellRx meets standards set by a global coalition that includes International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and NABP, which has supported the United States boards of pharmacy in their goal of protecting the public health since 1904.

ScriptSave is a member of the MedImpact, Inc. family of companies. For more information, visit www.wellrx.com. Follow us: @SSWellRx (Twitter), Scriptsavewellrx (Facebook).

About VUCA Health

Based in Lake Mary, Fla., VUCA Health (www.vucahealth.com) provides a gateway to patient engagement that serves as an on-demand extension of pharmacists and other healthcare providers. The company’s MedsOnCue solution leverages advanced mobile, web and on-demand video and communication technologies to deliver trusted patient information that enhances the medication use process. It offers a convenient and cost-effective way for clients to provide on-demand patient medication information and strengthen customer connections with video briefings, web messaging, reminders and alerts and a host of other customizable services that extend and enhance the patient relationship.

Contact Information

You can find the original press release here.


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ScriptSave WellRx - American Heart Month exercise image

On average, someone dies of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) every 40 seconds. That is about 2,200 deaths of CVD each day. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.February has been designated as American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community. It’s a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.

The term “heart disease” is used broadly to describe a number of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease is a condition in which plaque, which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other things in the blood, builds up inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. If the plaque gets big enough, it can cause a heart attack or even sudden cardiac death.

Heart Disease Across the US

The statistics on the prevalence of CVD are staggering2:

  • 7 million, or 34.0% of US adults are estimated to have hypertension
  • 5 million, or 11.9% of US adults are estimated to have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL
  • 4 million, or 9.1% of US adults are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes
  • Stroke accounted for ≈1 of every 20 deaths in the United States
  • On average, someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds. This is about 795,000 new or recurrent stroke each year. On average, someone died of a stroke every 4 minutes.

The way to avoid becoming part of these statistics starts with some basic ideas. If you smoke, stop. If you don’t exercise, then it’s time to start (but talk to your doctor first). Strive for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each day. And if you’re eating high-fat fried foods, it’s time to give your diet a workout. Even the pharmacy chain, CVS, is making a move to carrying snacks without trans-fats, which have been linked to increases in heart disease, with its branded food products.

Heart Healthy Foods

The American Heart Association has identified foods that meet their certification program requirements. Research shows that eating these foods can lead to fewer heart disease risk factors.3 The Heart-Check mark, the front-of-package icon of the American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program, has been helping shoppers make healthier food choices for more than 20 years. It’s a useful tool for consumers constructing a healthier diet.

Whether you’re grocery shopping or dining out, the Heart-Check mark makes spotting heart-healthy foods simple. Some examples of foods in the Heart-Check Certification Program include4:

 Product  Company
 America’s Choice Roasted Turkey Breast  Smithfield Foods, Inc.
 Boar’s Head Black Forest SmokeMaster
Beechwood Smoked Ham
 Boar’s Head Provisions Company, Inc.
 Simply Orange Original Pulp Free 100% Orange Juice  The Coca-Cola Company
 Darling Clementines  LGS Specialty Sales LTD
 Fresh Sweet Potatoes (US grown, orange flesh varieties)  The United States Sweet Potato Council, Inc.

If you’re planning a grocery store trip, look for the Heart-Check mark and get started on the road to a healthier heart. And take the first important step – talk to your doctor about your risks.

References:

  1. NCHS. Deaths, percent of total deaths, and death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 10-year age groups, by race and sex: United States, 1999-2013 .
  2. American Heart Association – http://newsroom.heart.org/events/february-is-american-heart-month-5712350
  3. Choosing foods that meet Heart-Check certification requirements linked to better diet quality, study finds http://news.heart.org/choosing-foods-that-meet-heart-check-certification-requirements-linked-to-better-diet-quality-study-finds/
  4. Heart-Check Food Certification Program  http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_474830.pdf

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ScriptSave WellRx - Brand vs. Generic image

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between generic and brand name drugs? Do generic drugs work as well? Why are generic prescription and Over the Counter (OTC) medications cheaper than branded ones?

Brand Name Drugs

A brand name medication is the original product developed and researched by the manufacturing drug company. Before a new medication can go on the market—whether it’s an antibiotic, heartburn tablet or other medicine—the drug company has to put it through rigorous testing to prove that the drug is effective and safe for human use. This can be a long and expensive process. Some drugs are in testing for years or even decades before getting approved. Once testing is complete, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will award a patent to the company. This gives the company the exclusive rights to produce and sell the drug under their brand name until the patent expires. Once the company has the patent, they have to promote the product through advertising, which adds to the company’s costs.

Generic Drugs

When the patent expires, other companies can develop a generic version of the drug for the market. A generic drug contains the same active ingredient as the brand name drug, and the generic is often marketed under the name of the active ingredient (i.e., acetaminophen, the generic of Tylenol). However, a generic drug may contain different inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients are used to help provide the drug to the consumer in a form that is stable and useable. For example, the flavored syrup used to make children’s Benadryl is considered an inactive ingredient. You can find the active and inactive ingredients on the drug container’s “Drug Facts” label.

ScriptSave WellRx - benadryl label image

Instead of testing to prove efficacy and safety (since this has already been proven), the generic drug company must perform tests to prove the generic drug is equal in strength, quality, purity, and potency to the brand name drug version. The generic has to be proven to be bioequivalent – meaning it achieves the same levels in the blood and provides the same effect in the body as the original brand name product. Testing for these equivalents usually takes less time to complete and is less expensive than the original research on the brand name medication. Also, generic drug companies don’t usually spend money on advertising their product. This is why generic drugs cost less than brand name drugs.

So, what’s in a name? In short – marketing and costs. On average, a generic drug is 80 to 85% less expensive than the brand name product. Rigorous testing on both products assures equal quality despite the name and price difference. A generic drug will work just as effectively as a brand name product, but will have less of an impact on your pocketbook, making it a great solution for budget-conscious shoppers.

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/understandinggenericdrugs/ucm167991.htm


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** Average and up-to savings percentages are based on all discounted prescriptions that were run through the WellRx program in 2015. Discount percentages represent savings provided off of pharmacies’ retail prices for consumers who do not have a discount program and pay cash.

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ScriptSave WellRx - avoid holiday stress with prescription medication savings

The holidays are a time of good cheer and family gatherings, but they can offer plenty of reasons to be stressed out — the gifts still need wrapping, the office party invites, and maybe the biggest — the family.

With potential anxiety looming on your calendar, what are some ways that you can prepare yourself and cope better this season?

Controlling Holiday Stress

  • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
  • Give homemade gifts.
  • Start a family gift exchange.
  • Plan ahead. Set specific days for shopping, baking, and other activities. Plan your menus, make your shopping list, and then hit the store. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients.
  • Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. If you let the holidays become a free-for-all, overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
  • Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend, then stick to your budget.

Other de-stressing ideas include:

  • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Make time for regular physical activity each day.
  • Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

And finally, seek professional help if you need it. If, despite your efforts, you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They may medication for your anxiety or depression.

The medication your doctor prescribes for your anxiety — if any — will depend on your symptoms and type of anxiety disorder.

There are two overall types of medications used to treat anxiety disorders:

  • Anti-anxiety medications.
  • Antidepressants

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Taking steps to prevent the stress and depression can prevent problems ahead of the holidays. Recognize your holiday triggers, like financial pressures or family demands. That way you can sidestep them before they lead to a breakdown. May you only find peace and joy during the holidays!

 

References: National Institute of Health – https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/nov2016/feature1


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Doctor speaking to patient about medications

New Recommendations for Statins in Adults

If you’re over 40, your doctor may talk with you about adding a statin to prevent heart disease. Statins (like Crestor, Zocor and Lipitor) are a class of medications that lower cholesterol levels. The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-backed group that establishes health recommendations, is now suggesting that statins be used for the primary prevention of heart disease in adults. This means that statins can be used to prevent strokes or heart attacks, even if you have never had one in the past. Eighteen studies evaluated the use of statins versus no treatment in adults who met the criteria. Low- to moderate-dose statins were associated with a lower risk of stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and death.

Who Benefits?

Those who may benefit from a low- to moderate-dose statin are adults ages 40-75 years, who have at least one heart disease risk factor (such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoking), and have a high risk of having a cardiovascular event over the next 10 years. Your healthcare provider will need to evaluate if a statin is appropriate for you.

Commonly Prescribed Statin Medications

Some of the most commonly prescribed statins that are approved for use in the U.S. include:

Taking Statins? Things to Watch For

If you’re new to taking statin medications, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Common adverse effects of statin medications are muscle pain and weakness.
  • Let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have any liver problems, are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you’re taking any antiviral or antifungal medications.
  • In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis may occur. This is recognized as debilitating muscle pain associated with dark-colored urine. Be sure to contact your doctor if this occurs.
  • Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit-containing products.
  • Statins also work best if you take them in the evening.

Reference:

https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/statin-use-in-adults-preventive-medication1


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Crestor (rosuvastatin),
Zocor (simvastatin),
Lipitor (atorvastatin)
and other statins,

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Celebrex for arthritis pain - ScriptSave WellRx

If you struggle with arthritis pain, chances are you’ve tried a variety of anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief. While drugs falling into the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory category (NSAIDs) can help, they often come with gastrointestinal side effects. A major 10-year study has shown that Celebrex (generic name, Celecoxib) may not have the same side effects of similar drugs.

More than 24,000 heart patients and people at increased risk for cardiovascular disease were compared. Patients were given Celebrex, or either naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). The study found Celebrex, which has been on the market for 17 years, was no more dangerous to the heart than either of the two NSAIDs, which have been on the market for decades. This should come as a relief to thousands of patients who have an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. The study also found that Celebrex was safer when it comes to gastrointestinal problems.

For more on the study, visit CBSnews.com.


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IBS or IBD picture of woman with stomach pains

When it comes to the world of gastrointestinal diseases, you may hear a lot of acronyms such as IBD and IBS. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a broad term that refers to chronic swelling (inflammation) of the intestines. It’s often confused with the non-inflammatory condition irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Although similar in name symptoms, they have distinct differences.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

IBS is extremely common. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders estimates that it affects up to 15 percent of the American population. IBS symptoms are also the most common reason patients seek out a gastroenterologist.

Most people with IBS will never develop IBD. Still, a person who has been diagnosed with IBD may display IBS-like symptoms. You can have both conditions at the same time, and both are considered chronic (ongoing) conditions.

IBD comes in the form of:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • indeterminate colitis

What causes IBS?

Unlike IBD, IBS isn’t classified as a true disease. Instead it’s known as a “functional disorder.” This means that the symptoms don’t have an identifiable cause. Contrary to popular belief, IBS isn’t a psychological condition. IBS has physical symptoms, but there is no known cause.

The basic cause of IBS is unknown, but researchers have found that the colon muscle in people with IBS contracts more readily than in people without IBS. A number of factors can “trigger” IBS, including certain foods, medicines, and emotional stress. Since the inflammation of IBD is absent in people with IBS, it’s difficult for researchers to understand the precise causes of the latter condition. One notable difference is that IBS is almost always exacerbated by stress. Stress reduction techniques may help. Consider trying:

  • meditation
  • exercise
  • yoga
  • talk therapy

What are the symptoms of IBS and IBD?

People with IBS show no clinical signs of a disease and often have normal test results. Although both conditions can occur in anyone at any age, it seems to run in families.

IBS is characterized by a combination of:Compare Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Copay to WellRx pricing

  • abdominal pain
  • cramps
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

IBD can cause the same symptoms, and additionally:

  • eye discomfort
  • extreme fatigue
  • joint pain
  • rectal bleeding

Both can cause urgent bowel movements.

Treatment Options

If you suspect you have IBS or IBD, it is important to see your health care provider. Your provider should review your medical history and perform a physical examination. To diagnose IBD, one or more of the following tests might be ordered

  • stool samples
  • blood tests
  • colonoscopy with biopsies
  • CT scanning

IBS may be treated with certain medications such as intestinal antispasmodics, like hyoscyamine (Levsin) or dicyclomine HCL (Bentyl), or with an anticholinergic and barbiturate combination (Donnatal).

Dietary and lifestyle changes seem to help the most. People with IBS should avoid aggravating their condition with fried and fatty foods and caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

IBS and IBD may seem to share similar symptoms, but these are two different conditions with very different treatment requirements. A gastroenterologist can help determine your specific condition and offer the best treatment plan and resources to help you manage symptoms.


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ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings on ADHD medications

There’s no known cure for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a common disorder that often starts in childhood, but is sometimes not diagnosed until adulthood. It is important for parents to remember that ADHD can be successfully managed. There are many treatment options, so parents should work closely with everyone involved in the child’s life—healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, and family members.

For children 6 years of age and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends both behavior therapy and medication as good options, preferably both together. For young children (under 6 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy is recommended as the first line of treatment, before medication is tried. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring of whether and how much the treatment helps the child’s behavior, and making changes as needed along the way. You can learn more about the AAP recommendations for treatment of children with ADHD by visiting the Centers for Disease Control ADHD Recommendations page.

Behavior therapy for young children: Training for parents

Behavior therapy as the first line of treatment for preschool-aged children (4–5 years of age) with ADHD. Parent training in behavior therapy has the most evidence of being effective, but teachers and early childhood caregivers can use behavior therapy in the classroom as well.

Why should parents try behavior therapy first, before medication?

Behavior therapy is an important first step because:

  • Behavior therapy gives parents the skills and strategies to help their child.
  • Behavior therapy has been shown to work as well as medication for ADHD in young children.
  • Young children have more side effects from ADHD medications than older children.
  • The long-term effects of ADHD medications on young children have not been well-studied.

A review of treatment results found enough evidence to recommend parent training in behavior therapy as a solid treatment option for children under six years old with ADHD symptoms and for disruptive behavior, in general.

ADHD treatment – medication therapyCompare ADHD treatment medication prices

Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are the most commonly prescribed class of ADHD drugs. The parents and their doctor should decide together on which medication is best for their child and whether the child needs medication during school hours only or on evenings and weekends as well.

Common CNS stimulants include:

Nonstimulant medications:

Nonstimulant medications are often considered when stimulants haven’t worked or have caused intolerable side effects. Nonstimulant medications used to treat ADHD include atomoxetine (Strattera) and antidepressants like nortriptyline HCI (Pamelor).

Support Groups

Support groups are great for helping parents of children with ADHD to connect with others who may share similar experiences, concerns, and successes. Support groups typically meet regularly so relationships and support networks can be built. Knowing you’re not alone in dealing with ADHD can be a huge relief. Support groups can also be a great resource for specialist recommendations and practical strategies, especially if you are a parent of a child newly diagnosed with ADHD.

Extracurricular Activities

Children with ADHD often thrive with activities that channel their energy productively. Classes, like art, music or dance lessons, or martial arts classes can also be a source of positive reward and foster mental discipline. Find out what your child is interested in and remember, don’t force them into anything.

Reference:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/guidelines.html
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/treatment.html 
http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-treatment-care


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Photo of man sarching for reliable health information on the internet

Have you ever found yourself Googling your symptoms when you are sick? A few clicks later and you find yourself absorbing information that correlates with your symptoms and you have convinced yourself that you have this condition and only months to live? I have realized that Googling your symptoms when you are ill is a surefire way to convince yourself that you are dying.

The advent of the internet opened the door for information to be accessible by anyone. Anything and everything you wanted to know can be found online. The problem is, not everything you read or find online is true, honest, or correct. My goal in this blog is to encourage you to think critically and use caution when looking online for medical information.

Below is a list of some resources that I would recommend to my patients wanting to become more familiar with medications, illnesses/conditions, and herbal products and supplements. I encourage you to be proactive in your health and talk with your doctor and pharmacist regularly.

Each resource below is a bit different in regards to content and you will have to find out which one works best for you.

Some resources that may be beneficial to you with trusted medical information include, but are not limited to:

I hope this information can help guide you to understanding your health better and become a trusted resource for you and your family.

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