lower blood pressure heart image- wellrx blog

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

With the current storm of attention-grabbing news headlines, it’s easy to lose track of the biggest threats to your life as an American: heart disease and stroke. These two leading causes of death in the United States are highly connected to high blood pressure, a condition that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), affects nearly half of adults in the United States.

The omnipresence of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be intimidating. However, you are very much in control of this health parameter, and you can take a number of measures to avoid ever developing the condition.

Check out the following primer on six ways to lower your blood pressure without prescription medication. 

1. Weight Loss

Your circulatory system — the network that distributes blood from your heart to your peripheral organs and then siphons blood back to your heart — is one continuous web of blood vessels. Any excess body fat can put pressure on these vessels, making it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout the system and necessitating an increase in blood pressure. Imagine the corollary of inflating a balloon: by pinching the neck of the balloon as you are blowing in air, you narrow the free-flowing stream. This means you have to blow much harder to inflate the balloon than if you left the neck unpinched.

The good news about body weight and blood pressure is that research shows even modest weight loss, classified as less than 5 percent of body weight, can reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 23 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 9 mmHg. This means that for a person who weighs 200 pounds, it would take less than a 10-pound weight loss to drop blood pressure from 150/90 to 127/81.

2. Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking affects blood pressure by increasing the stiffness of the arteries and activating our sympathetic nervous systems (the fight-or-flight stress response). However, these effects are reversible, and research shows that smoking cessation can reduce blood pressure readings.

There’s other great news, too, when it comes to smoking and general cardiovascular risk: 15 years after you stop smoking, your risk of cardiovascular disease will be the same as that of someone who has never smoked.

3. Exercise

Exercising undoubtedly spikes your blood pressure in the short term, but a workout can have a long-lasting positive effect on your baseline blood pressure. Many reviews have examined the impact of exercise on blood pressure. One study, in particular, found that aerobic exercise can lower blood pressure by 5–7 mmHg, and resistance training can lower blood pressure by 2–3 mmHg.

These effects may seem modest, but they rival the effects of prescription blood pressure medication and can still lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 to 30 percent. Better yet, exercising one day a week has been found to be just as effective — or even more effective — than taking prescription medication when it comes to reducing your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Don’t delay: lace up those shoes and get going!

4. Sleep Better

Sleep and blood pressure perform a delicate dance. Sleep challenges, such as not getting enough sleep, getting too much sleep, and having trouble falling asleep, have all been shown to drive up blood pressure.

There is a sweet spot, though: research has shown that people who get seven hours of nightly sleep have the lowest risk when it comes to sleep’s effect on blood pressure. Getting less than five hours seems to have the most negative impact. If you are struggling to sleep well at night, make sure to seek help with troubleshooting your shuteye.

5. Eat for Blood Pressure

Your daily food choices can greatly impact your risk of ever developing hypertension. Experts have honed in on certain foods and dietary regimens that are associated with lower blood pressure.

The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, plan is one of the easiest and most effective tools at your disposal when it comes to nonpharmaceutical ways to control blood pressure. It is easy to stick with and features the following fundamentals:

  • Freely eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Freely eat fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and oils
  • Avoid saturated fat, fatty meats, high-fat dairy products, and sugar-sweetened drinks and treats

It can be intimidating to make changes to your grocery list, but ScriptSave® WellRx has you covered with our handy Grocery Guidance. This app combines nutritional science with personalized AI to help you figure out which grocery products are the very best for your lifestyle.

6. Meditate

Channeling your inner aura may not only improve your outlook, it may also help reduce your blood pressure. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials that was published in the journal Hypertension found that deliberate meditation can meaningfully reduce blood pressure readings. Nontranscendental meditation (i.e., mindfulness meditation) was found to be more effective than transcendental meditation, but both appeared to have a positive impact.

Without a doubt, hypertension is a silent disease whose long-term consequences can be devastating. Luckily, you have control in the fight against high blood pressure, even without prescription medication, and you can get started on the above tips today.

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644874/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3212429/

https://www.who.int/tobacco/quitting/benefits/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589552/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4543249/

https://www.wellrx.com/grocery-guidance/

https://journals.lww.com/jhypertension/Abstract/2017/04000/Meditation_and_blood_pressure__a_meta_analysis_of.5.aspxhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation

stressed from coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Karen Eisenbraun, CHNC

If you’re feeling flaky and exhausted these days, you’re not alone. Whether you’re isolated at home or continuing to go to work, all of us are dealing with tremendous change and uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Anxiety over coronavirus can manifest in myriad ways. Many people are experiencing symptoms such as insomnia, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, and lower energy levels. 

The situation surrounding coronavirus is likely to remain uncertain for a long time, so it’s important to establish good practices that help safeguard your mental and emotional health as conditions evolve. Try some of these approaches for protecting your emotional well-being during the pandemic. 

Practice Self-Compassion

First, understand that it’s perfectly normal to feel tired and scattered during times of uncertainty. If you find yourself being less productive than usual, don’t beat yourself up. Resist the urge to compare yourself to people on social media who claim to be using their surplus of downtime to organize their closets or learn a new language. Accept that this situation is temporary, and you are entitled to adjust your ideas of what it means to be productive.

Recognize that even small acts can be important accomplishments right now. If all you do during the day is get up, get dressed, make your bed, feed your family, and get some work done, let that be enough. Just like the changing of the seasons, we go through different periods of productivity and rest during our lives. Let this be a time of rest, and let go of the need to be constantly accomplishing something. 

Practice Good Self-Care

The term “self-care” often conjures up images of bubble baths and pedicures, but it’s much more than that. Self-care can be taking whatever steps are necessary to protect your well-being and peace of mind. That may mean blocking certain people on social media, or taking a break from social media altogether. 

Good self-care during this time may mean scheduling some time during the day to sit quietly with a cup of coffee, away from the incessant stress of the news cycle. It may mean taking the dog for a long walk and enjoying being in nature. Schedule time to engage in whatever activities help you feel more grounded. 

Create a New Routine

Many of us have had our routines upended. We may be working from home, or may be furloughed, or may have kids who need help with online classes. Even if we’re returning to our place of work, it may look very different than it did before. 

It may be a long time before things return to anything that resembles what we think of as “normal,” but we can create a new normal. Research shows that having a consistent routine is good for both physical and emotional health. 

Having a routine can help reduce stress. A set routine makes situations feel more predictable and controllable. It also helps reduce the number of decisions you have to make throughout the day, which allows you to conserve mental energy for important decisions. 

A regular routine can also help improve your sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night, and establish a nighttime routine that includes turning off electronic devices at a designated time. 

Consider creating a morning routine that helps you start the day on a positive note. Instead of getting up and going straight to the computer for work, take some time to journal, meditate, and plan your day. Identify three things you would like to accomplish for the day—but make them realistic and attainable. Being able to cross items off your list can help you feel more in control, but don’t stress if you don’t get them all done. 

Get Some Exercise

It’s well documented that physical activity reduces stress, and boosts the immune system as well. Like everything else, your exercise routine may look very different than it did before the pandemic. Rather than a high-intensity spin class, shift to gentler forms of exercise. Try yoga, which is associated with reduced stress and improved cardiovascular function. 

If weather and your location allow, simply going for a walk is also associated with numerous benefits, including improved mood and lower risk of chronic disease. 

Above all, allow yourself to find joy and peace where you can without feeling guilty about it. Focus on the things you have to be grateful for, whether that’s steady income, a safe place to shelter, or healthy family members. If you feel anxious or depressed to the extent that you could benefit from professional health, seek out a support group or find a therapist who offers telehealth services. You don’t have to face the uncertainty alone. 

Karen Eisenbraun is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She holds an English degree from Knox College and has written extensively about topics related to holistic health, clinical nutrition, and weight management.

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/health-benefits-of-having-a-routine

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/a20485587/benefits-from-walking-every-day/https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

loved ones fighting coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC

It is highly likely that you know someone who is working the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. When you think of frontline workers, you may envision a nurse in scrubs or a doctor with his stethoscope. It’s important to remember that many other individuals are tirelessly working during the pandemic who are not doctors or nurses. These people include grocery store workers, delivery drivers, food service workers, EMTs, police officers, and janitorial staff.

From doctors to grocery store employees, workers are being traumatized on a daily basis and may be struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Essential Workers

What characterizes an essential worker is highly debatable among Americans. One thing we know for certain is that over the past several months, many people have been forced out of their jobs through furloughs and layoffs, while others have been expected to report to work as usual with the added risk of contracting the coronavirus. In fact, across the United States, more than 2 million grocery store workers have reported working in some of the most hard-hit cities across the country, and many of them have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Police officers, janitors, delivery drivers, food service workers, and EMTs are deemed essential and are unable to perform their duties through the screen of a Zoom call. People in these professions also risk their lives and expose themselves to the possibility of contracting the virus and potentially bringing it home to their families. For example, as of April 2, 2020, the Detroit Police Department had quarantined over 600 employees, and 78 had tested positive for the virus. Police officers have to respond to 911 calls as part of their oath to serve, and the same goes for EMTs. Janitors are needed to sterilize and sanitize places such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other high-risk places without the option of refusing.

Healthcare Workers and COVID-19

As of April 15, 2020, as many as 9,300 healthcare workers have been infected with the coronavirus, and 27 have died from it. Each day, healthcare workers are interacting with people who are sick and highly contagious. They have to make life-altering decisions within seconds, and the toll that takes on their mental health can be astronomical. The pandemic’s effect on the mental health of healthcare workers may not be fully realized until after the pandemic.

Mental Health Toll on Frontline Workers

It is no surprise that many essential workers (and nonessential workers) are reporting an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety, stress, burnout, and fear. Each day, essential workers interact with other people who either already have the coronavirus or could potentially have it. Fears about catching the virus, becoming ill, bringing the virus home to family members, and potentially losing their own lives are real concerns that essential workers live with each day.

Every shift, our front line and essential workers risk their lives and the lives of their families to help their community and their fellow human beings. These workers face unrelenting and daunting tasks each day and jeopardize their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Related Content: Anxiety and Depression Medications in the Global Crisis

What You Can Do

You probably know or love someone who is an essential worker. The worry and concern you have for them is valid and understandable. However, you can take several steps to support them during this time.

First and foremost, be patient and compassionate. Your loved one is highly likely to be experiencing extremely high stress, anxiety, and/or depression, which may make them more irritable, frustrated, or sad. Try to remember that you are not the cause of their increased stress and irritability. Additional things to consider include:

  • Make them a favorite meal: Making someone you love a meal is one way to show your love and care for them; also, most people find comfort in food.
  • Validate their stress and other emotions: Verbalize that you understand they are stressed out, and acknowledge that what they are doing is in fact very difficult. Validate that any emotions they are feeling are okay and make sense given the circumstances.
  • Positively reinforce them: Acknowledge how hard they are working. Have conversations that focus on things your loved one wants to do when the pandemic slows down and they have time off; this includes talking about and planning a vacation.
  • Let them know you love them: Send a text, make a phone call, leave a message, or mail a card. Sometimes the simplest acts can have the biggest impact.
  • Lighten their burden: Offer to do something for them that makes their life easier. Examples can include picking up their groceries, making and dropping off cookies, or folding laundry that has been sitting on the kitchen table.

It is important that we all do our best to support our essential and frontline workers. The pandemic and the threat of COVID-19 can take a toll on everyone’s health and wellness. Remember that this situation is temporary, and, together, we will get through it.

Jacquelyn Buffo is a licensed professional counselor with experience and expertise in substance abuse and mental health issues. She received her MS in mental health counseling from Capella University and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Michigan. She is also in the process of receiving her certification in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Jacquelyn has experience working with clients suffering from addiction and mental health issues on an in-home, residential, and outpatient basis. Currently, she works with adolescents and adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through Henry Ford Health System.

References:

https://www.brookings.edu/interactives/meet-the-covid-19-frontline-heroes/

https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2020/ask-the-expert-protecting-police-and-first-responders-during-covid-19/

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/15/834920016/at-least-9-000-u-s-health-care-workers-sickened-with-covid-19-cdc-data-showshttps://time.com/5817435/covid-19-mental-health-coronavirus/

covid drug shortages - wellrx blog image

By Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in numerous ways, including disrupting the supply of some medications. You may have wondered why the pharmacy near you is short on supply of some of your medicines. Drug shortages are the product of many factors, including manufacturing issues and shortages in critical ingredients necessary to produce the drugs.

Your medications are composed of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), which is the part of the drug that does the work, and excipients, which many people refer to as “fillers.” About 80% of APIs used to make drugs sold in the United States are manufactured abroad.

The majority of suppliers for active ingredients are located in China and in India, and worldwide shutdowns of manufacturing plants have interrupted the supply of ingredients essential in the production of many drugs.

What Causes Drug Shortages?

Several factors may contribute to drug shortages, including the following:

  • manufacturing problems
  • shortage of active ingredients, or APIs
  • increased demand
  • drug recalls
  • natural disasters
  • business decisions
  • regulatory issues

Many of the current drug shortages are due to manufacturing problems, shortage of APIs, and an increase in demand for drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19.

China and India are the two top suppliers of active ingredients and generic medicines, which account for 90% of the medications sold in the United States. Forty percent of generic and over-the-counter drugs used in the United States is supplied by India.

The shutdown of manufacturing plants in both China and India has interrupted the production of active ingredients necessary for the development of many medications in the United States and other parts of the world. Even as some of these plants begin to reopen, they will operate with limited capacity for some time, and shipments of raw materials will be slow.

What Medications Are Affected by COVID-19 Drug Shortages?

China makes the active ingredients for the majority of the antibiotics sold in the United States, as well as vitamin C, hydrocortisone, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, heparin, antidepressants, drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS, birth control pills, diabetes medicines, and more. India imports 70% of active ingredients from China to supply the United States with antibiotics, pain medication, hormones, antiviral drugs, and vitamins B1, B6, and B12.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) maintain lists of drugs that are in short supply. Although both lists are long, not all drug shortages are due to COVID-19 worldwide shutdowns. The following is a sample of some of the drugs with supplies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A full list is available from the FDA and ASHP.

  • Albuterol sulfate metered-dose inhalers. These inhalers have an increased demand for patients with COVID-19. Several manufacturers are allocating their supplies to high-need areas.
  • Azithromycin tablets (Z-Pak): Azithromycin is one of the drugs studied in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19. Its shortage is a result of increased demand.
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil): Manufactures report a delay in shipping as the reason for the shortage. This drug is also under study for COVID-19 treatment.
  • Fentanyl citrate injection: Fentanyl injection is used as a sedative and treats severe pain in patients on ventilators. Manufacturers report an increase in demand as the reason for the shortage.
  • Midazolam injection: Midazolam is used as a sedative in patients on ventilators. Manufacturers report increased demand as the reason for the shortage.
  • Vecuronium bromide injection: Vecuronium is used as a muscle relaxant during ventilation. This medication is in short supply due to increased demand.

What Is the United States Doing to Address Drug Shortages?

Although the United States relies heavily on supplies from overseas for drug manufacturing, government agencies are taking steps to address drug shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Strategic National Stockpile was created in 1999 to ensure the United States has an adequate supply of drugs and other resources in the case of public health threats, such as natural disasters, national security threats, and disease outbreaks. The Operational Logistics Branch is responsible for obtaining medicines and supplies for the stockpile, ensuring there is an adequate amount of medications and supplies to respond to emergencies, and ensuring the stockpile can supply states and public health agencies when medications and other supplies are needed.

As of May 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has increased staffing in the stockpile operation center and partnered with private industry to help with the medical supply chain and product delivery.

Additionally, the DEA has allowed increased production of controlled substances in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA has also proposed an initiative to lengthen expiration dates on drugs to increase the current supply.

How Can Pharmacies Help with Drug Shortages?

Your pharmacist can discuss alternatives with your doctor if your medicine is in short supply at your local pharmacy. The medication may be available in different strengths. Your pharmacist can explain if you need to increase the number of pills that you take or cut them in half. Sometimes, your doctor may change the medication to another one in the same class. The name of the drug, the strength, and the directions may differ, so be sure to talk to your pharmacist about taking your new medication.

Remember that you can use your free Rx savings card to obtain the lowest prescription price on your new or existing medications at a pharmacy near you.

Rosanna Sutherby is a freelance medical writer who has been a practicing pharmacist in her community for close to 20 years. She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She utilizes her clinical training in the pharmacy, where she helps patients manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many others. Dr. Sutherby reviews and recommends drug regimens based on patients’ concurrent conditions and potential drug interactions.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278171/

https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/coronavirus-disrupt-us-drug-supply-shortages-fda

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/24/us-drug-shortage-fears-grow-as-india-locks-down-due-to-the-coronavirus.html

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/default.cfm

https://www.ashp.org/Drug-Shortages/Current-Shortages/Drug-Shortages-List?page=CurrentShortages

https://www.wellrx.com/albuterol%20sulfate%20hfa/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/azithromycin/drug-information/

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-begins-clinical-trial-hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin-treat-covid-19

https://www.wellrx.com/hydroxychloroquine%20sulfate/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/fentanyl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/midazolam%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/vecuronium%20bromide/monographs/

https://www.phe.gov/about/sns/Pages/about.aspx

https://www.phe.gov/about/sns/Pages/responses.aspx

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/04/07/dea-takes-additional-steps-allow-increased-production-controlled

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-supply-chain-update

https://www.wellrx.com/family-prescription-savings

https://www.wellrx.com/

memorial day mishaps - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

Our Memorial Day celebrations might look a little different this year as we attempt to integrate festivity and social distancing. However, some aspects of the summer holiday will remain constant. If you are planning on spending any amount of time outdoors, face masks and six-foot radiuses will not protect you from the five most common Memorial Day medical mishaps. Here’s how to stay safe and prepared.

1. Animal Bites and Insect Stings

Outdoor Memorial Day celebrations are often multispecies melting pots. Children are particularly vulnerable to animal bites and insect stings. In fact, after accidental falls, animal bites and insect stings are the second and third leading causes of nonfatal injuries resulting in emergency department visits in children ages 0 to 9, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Here’s what to do:

  • To limit the possibility of an animal bite, supervise your children around any unfamiliar animals. Any pets that tend to get overstimulated in new situations should be leashed or tucked away indoors.
  • To stay prepared in the fight against insects—particularly if you live in an area inhabited by fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, all of which transmit unseemly diseases—dress the family in hats, long-sleeve tops, and long pants, and don an insect repellent before heading outside.
  • Make sure to keep a supply of Benadryl and calamine lotion in stock for any insect contacts that do occur. And, if you or a loved one have a known insect allergy, you should always have an EpiPen within close range.

2. Heat-Related Illness

After being cooped up indoors for weeks on end, our bodies may be a bit shell-shocked by the first hot day of the summer. If the weather forecast predicts Memorial Day will be a scorcher, make sure to properly hydrate prior to any outdoor activities—particularly exercise—and keep up with fluid and electrolyte replenishment while you are outside.

Staying hydrated is particularly important if you will be drinking alcohol, which, as a natural diuretic, will work against your hydration efforts. If you or a loved one becomes extremely hot, tired, achy, dizzy, lightheaded, or confused, immediately seek a cooler environment and call for help because these may be signs of a medical emergency known as heat stroke.

3. Drowning

The swimming pool is a central aspect of life during the summer, and many community pools celebrate their grand opening over Memorial Day weekend. Though public pools may not be opening with full gusto this summer, backyard pools and even shallow play tubs still pose considerable risks for unsupervised children. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 1 to 4. To avoid potential calamity, children in this age group should always be supervised around standing water of any kind.

4. Sunburns

A bad sunburn could spoil your entire Memorial Day. If it’s bad enough, it could spoil many of the days following, and leave you vulnerable to downstream consequences like premature skin aging and skin cancer.

To avoid a burn, apply sunscreen liberally to any exposed areas of skin, especially if you plan to be outside during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a water-resistant product with broad spectrum coverage (UVA and UVB) that is 30 SPF or higher. Apply 15 minutes before heading outside, and reapply every two hours. For any spots that you inadvertently miss, aloe vera gel can help with damage control.

5. Barbecue-Related Injuries

Ah, the barbecue. This timeless symbol of summer and patriotic liberty also symbolizes many lurking hazards. Here’s how to avoid the top barbecue backfires.

  • Cuts and Scrapes. Will your patio spread be including a bountiful display of fruits and vegetables? All it takes is one misplacement of the knife and you may be serving up the tip of your finger along with the sliced watermelon. Make sure you do your chopping prior to imbibing, preferably in the area of your home where you normally prepare food. If you do sustain a scrape or slice in the line of duty, clean copiously with soap and water, wrap the wound with a pressure dressing, and keep it elevated. If it has been more than five years since your last tetanus shot, you will need to head to your local healthcare provider for a booster dose. If you’re up to date on vaccines and your bleeding is well-controlled, you can likely manage at home with Neosporin.
  • Food Poisoning. The first rule of barbecuing has been pretty well publicized: Don’t eat undercooked meat. However, side dishes pose dangers, too. If you absentmindedly go for a second helping of a mayonnaise-based salad after it has been incubating in the sun for hours, you may be in for a bout of gastrointestinal distress. In general, you should be suspect of any food that has been sitting in the sun for more than two hours, or one hour if the outside temperature is warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Burns. In the event of an unpredictable blaze, the master griller should have a prepoured bucket of water ready nearby in to rapidly douse any body part that accidentally gets too close to the flame. For any burns beyond first-degree skin redness (look for signs like blistering, skin whiteness, or exposure of underlying tissue), follow up with your healthcare provider. He or she can prescribe a burn medication, such as silver sulfadiazine, to help with inflammation and infection prevention. This medication can be expensive, so use a ScriptSave WellRx savings card to find the lowest price.

From all of us at ScriptSave, we wish you a happy Memorial Day. We hope that these guidelines will help you stay safe and enjoy celebrating the holiday in a novel way.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/child_injury_data.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0501-vs-vector-borne.html

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

https://www.wellrx.com/benadryl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/epipen%202-pak/

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html

https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/aloe%20vera/

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001652.htm

https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2017/07/avoid-food-poisoning-during-summer-picnics/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/silver%20sulfadiazine/

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

mental health green ribbon - wellrx blog image

By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the emergence of COVID-19 and the added financial, social, educational, and occupational stress, many people across the country are finding themselves dealing with increased emotional and mental distress. In fact, the national hotline designed to support people in psychological distress has increased 891% compared to this time last year.

What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental health has a controversial history. Hollywood’s depictions of insane asylums, questionable treatment practices, and lack of scientific research have contributed to the stigma that historically accompanied mental health. Thankfully, mental health has made its way into mainstream media and is becoming normalized and accepted more today than ever before. Our favorite athletes and celebrities are discussing their mental health diagnosis, challenges, and treatment and are encouraging others to do the same.

One out of every 5 American adults experiences a mental health disorder, and 1 out of 25 experiences a severe mental health disorder. Mental health disorders are an undeniable facet of reality, and it is crucial that the stigma and prejudice with mental health be eliminated. Treating and overcoming mental illness is possible, and the more we feel comfortable discussing our mental health issues, the more willing we are to receive treatment for it.

Unfortunately, only 43.3% of people with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2018. Many factors can account for this low number including apprehension about coming forward with a mental health disorder, lack of awareness as to possible treatment options, and lack of resources (insurance, financial, transportation) to get help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a big advocate for May being Mental Health Awareness Month. The goals of Mental Health Awareness Month are to raise awareness, reduce stigma, advocate for public health policies, provide support, and educate the public.

How You Can Support Mental Health Awareness Month

We all play a part in reducing the stigma and normalizing mental health and mental illness. Sharing your story with others is a great way to advocate and connect with people who are struggling with mental health issues. You can share your story on NAMI’s website and read others’ stories of challenges and triumphs.

In addition, you can take NAMI’s StigmaFree pledge. Making a pledge to be stigma-free means committing to intentionally use empowering words and actions that encourage acceptance and support for people with mental illness. Making this commitment is a way to advocate for mental health, and it empowers you to make a difference in ending the stigma associated with mental illness.

As the saying goes, money talks! Raising money for your favorite nonprofit or philanthropic endeavors is an effective way to provide support and resources. You can raise money in many different ways for NAMI or any other mental health organization. Some options include competing in a physical event while raising money for the event, creating your own campaign to raise support, celebrating your birthday by encouraging donations to your favorite organization in lieu of gifts, creating a memorial page for a person you have lost, or making a single or recurring monetary donation to your favorite mental health organization.

If you are short on coins, that’s okay. You can help in other ways that don’t cost money. Along with pledging to be StigmaFree and sharing your story with others, you can volunteer your time to a local mental health agency or community center. Donating your time to volunteering is an invaluable way you can advocate for mental health and contribute to ending the stigma.

Events that Support Mental Health Awareness Month

NAMI sponsors walks across the country throughout the summer to raise money, spread awareness, and increase advocacy for mental health. A list of walks (most of which are being done virtually in 2020) can be found here. It is not surprising that the list of events in 2020 is up in the air due to COVID-19. To stay up to date, you can follow NAMI on many social media platforms. They include:

  • Facebook: facebook.com/nami
  • Twitter: twitter.com/namicommunicate
  • Instagram: instragram.com/namicommunicate

Remember, you are not alone in your mental health journey. Millions of Americans experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Asking for help is key to managing mental illness. Having the courage to talk about your journey and to get treatment can help encourage others to do the same and help normalize the experience of mental illness.

Jacquelyn Buffo is a licensed professional counselor with experience and expertise in substance abuse and mental health issues. She received her MS in mental health counseling from Capella University and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Michigan. She is also in the process of receiving her certification in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Jacquelyn has experience working with clients suffering from addiction and mental health issues on an in-home, residential, and outpatient basis. Currently, she works with adolescents and adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through Henry Ford Health System.

References:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/calls-us-helpline-jump-891-white-house-warned/story?id=70010113

https://www.nami.org/mhstats

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Month

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Month/Share-Your-Story

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Pledge-to-Be-StigmaFree/StigmaFree-Me/StigmaFree-Pledge

https://www.namiwalks.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.eventList&eventType=C,I,P,T

insomnia from coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep during the current pandemic, you are not alone. According to the Sleep Foundation, millions of Americans suffered from insomnia prior to the onset of the pandemic, and the current climate is likely increasing the number of people who are having difficulty sleeping. This may be due to a multitude of factors, such as altered routines, decreased access to exercise facilities, decreased exposure to natural light, increased screen time, and excessive worry. 

However, quality sleep is critical, now more than ever. Sleep is connected to improved immunity, better mental health, and higher stress resilience. Read on to learn more about how to improve your sleep during these uncertain and anxiety-ridden times.

Revamp Your Sleep Hygiene

The concept of “sleep hygiene” refers to the rituals that impact your nightly sleep routine, some of which occur long before your actual bedtime. If you have changed your schedule during the pandemic, it is quite possible that the comfortable circadian rhythm that previously drove your sleep schedule has been rudely disrupted. In order to get back on track, you can give yourself a sleep hygiene makeover by doing the following.

  • Reduce or eliminate your evening alcohol consumption, as booze can wreak havoc on your sleep quality, and lead to increased awakenings during the night.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake, particularly if you are in the habit of having an afternoon pick-me-up dose.
  • Remove any screens from your bedroom, and try your best not to engage with screens for at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
  • Expose yourself to more natural light during the day to increase your production of melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone involved in regulating the sleep cycle) and therefore recalibrate your circadian rhythm.
  • Try a calming activity before bed, such as a bath, aromatherapy, soothing music, or even a sleep meditation.
  • Try to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time, preferably without too much variation from your normal pre-COVID routine.
  • Try to avoid naps; it is easy to pass out on the couch during the mid-afternoon when you are not otherwise occupied, but snoozing during the day can reduce your “sleep debt” and sabotage your attempts to fall asleep at night.

Exercise in the Morning

A daily bout of exercise can go a long way toward improving your sleep. Exercise boosts your endorphins, giving you a more optimistic outlook and more energy, and it also helps you “tire yourself out” so that you can sleep better at night. However, if you exercise too late in the day, your body and brain may be too activated to fall asleep. If you feel that a nighttime exercise session is causing you to have difficulty falling asleep, trying shifting your workout to the morning.

Eat Sleep-Friendly Foods

Certain eating behaviors–such as ingesting a large meal right before bedtime, or eating spicy or acidic foods—can definitely disrupt your sleep. However, the following foods are notorious for improving your sleep. 

  • Foods containing tryptophan can make you drowsy after ingesting them. Tryptophan is an amino acid that boosts serotonin and melatonin production. High tryptophan content foods include poultry (post-Thanksgiving turkey nap, anyone?), dairy, and eggs.
  • Foods that have a natural melatonin content can also help improve your sleep, as higher melatonin levels give your brain a stronger “sleep cue.” High melatonin foods include cherries, grains, and nuts.
  • Foods that contain high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, in particular, can improve your sleep quality, increasing your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. Try a banana, dark leafy greens, or a handful of pumpkin seeds before bed to improve your snooze.

Consider a Sleep Supplement

To reduce your nocturnal angst, a sleep supplement may be helpful as well. Research has shown that supplementation with melatonin can decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increase your amount of total sleep, and improve your quality of sleep. Many different formulations of melatonin are available over the counter. Check in with your healthcare provider about what regimen is right for you.  

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About a Prescription Medication for Sleep

Despite the above tips and tricks, it can still be difficult to manage insomnia on your own. If your attempts at troubleshooting your sleep woes have failed, it may be time to check in with your healthcare provider about other medications that can be helpful for sleep. After a review of your medical history and current medical conditions, your provider may recommend a trial of one the following sleep medications.

  • A short-term benzodiazepine, which can have a sedative effect. Examples include Lorazepam (Ativan) and Temazepam (Restoril)
  • A non-benzodiazepine sedative, such as Eszopiclone (Lunesta) or Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • An antihistamine, such as Doxepin
  • A melatonin receptor agonist, such as Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • An oxerin receptor antagonist, such as Suvorexant (Belsomra)
  • A combination serotonin and histamine antagonist, such as Trazodone

If your healthcare provider prescribes you a sleep medication, make sure to use a ScriptSave WellRx savings card to find the lowest price. After initiating a prescription for sleep, your provider will likely recommend reevaluation within a few weeks to see how your sleep is progressing. If you continue to struggle with insomnia, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for further improvement.

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

References:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/sleep-apps/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23691095

https://www.wellrx.com/melatonin/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/ativan/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/temazepam/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/lunesta/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/zolpidem/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/doxepin hcl/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/ramelteon/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/belsomra/https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/trazodone%20hcl/

new mom health - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

Motherhood is not only an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual feat — it is a physical one as well.

Whether birth is achieved via vaginal delivery or cesarean section, the postnatal recovery period can often be prolonged, dragging into the next three months, which are known as the “fourth trimester.” 

But, fear not, moms around the world! There are little secrets hidden at your local pharmacy that can help you weather this period and put yourselves back together, piece by piece. Read on to learn the top post-baby pharmacy tips.

For Breastfeeding Woes

If nipple pain is interfering with your ability to breastfeed your baby, the situation can quickly begin to feel desperate. Breast milk, itself, has been recommended by experts to reduce nipple pain via direct application to the nipples after breastfeeding. However, research shows that a topical medication known as Lanolin is superior to breast milk in reducing nipple pain associated with breastfeeding trauma. You can pick up a tube of Lanolin at your local pharmacy without a prescription.

For Generalized Pain

It may not seem like much to an outsider, but after 40 weeks of managing general pregnancy aches and pains (and, often, headaches), without the ability to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), it can be extremely exciting to welcome ibuprofen back into your life. Ibuprofen and Naproxen are both safe to take while you are breastfeeding (though neither is safe to give directly to a newborn), so if you are experiencing soreness of any variety, make sure to hit the pharmacy to stock up.

For Cesarean Section Scarring

A cesarean section can be especially traumatic, especially if you were not planning to endure one when you initially went into labor. Most cesarean section scars sit low on the abdomen, so are barely perceptible, but a scar is a scar, nonetheless. To help reduce to the visibility of your surgical scar, try a specific medicated gel, like Mederma.

For Vaginal Delivery-Related Pain

If you tore vaginally during delivery or had to have an episiotomy, you will be especially sore and uncomfortable in the perineal region. You can use a numbing spray, such as Dermoplast, to help make this area more comfortable while it heals. Sitting in a cold sitz bath can help soothe the area as well, especially if you are experiencing itching and irritation from stitches—you can pick a sitz bath up at your local pharmacy.

For Hemorrhoids

All of that determined pushing comes at a cost. If you are noticing bits of blood on the toilet paper when you wipe after a bowel movement, or tender, burning, or itchy areas around your anus, you are likely suffering from postpartum hemorrhoids. Try adding a stool softener, such as Colace, to reduce your straining with bowel movements. A topical medication, such as Anusol, can be therapeutic as well. Both of these handy remedies are available over the counter.

For Mood Concerns

An estimated 60 to 80 percent of new mothers suffer from some degree of low mood following childbirth, as the hormones that were boosting and supporting a pregnancy for the previous 40 weeks all come crashing down in one giant nosedive. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help, either. The good news is that these feelings of postpartum blues normally pass with time, social support, and education.

However, up to 20 percent of women will experience mood changes that do not pass on their own and begin to affect their ability to interact with their newborn and others. This is known as postpartum depression. If this sounds familiar, you are absolutely not alone, and it is not your fault.

Your OB provider, or a mental health professional, can help you get back to feeling more like yourself. Prescription medications are commonly prescribed during this period to help with mood, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs.) If you are prescribed a medicine for postpartum depression, make sure to use a ScriptSave® WellRx savings card to find the lowest price. 

Related Content: Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30372779

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/lanolin

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/ibuprofen

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/naproxen

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/mederma

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/dermoplast

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/colace

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/anusol-hc

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3214451

https://www.wellrx.com/rx-discount-card/enroll

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

zantac recall drug image - wellrx blog

On April 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall of all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs. This included the brand name medication Zantac, which is commonly used to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Here is what you need to know about the recall.

1. Why Was Zantac Recalled?

The Zantac recall is linked to independent laboratory testing conducted in the summer of 2019. According to the FDA, those tests found low levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in drugs that contain ranitidine. NDMA is a probable human carcinogen, which means it could cause cancer. While NDMA is commonly found at low levels in food and water, exposure to high levels over time may increase cancer risk.

At the time, the FDA didn’t have enough evidence to issue a recall, but they warned consumers of potential risks from ranitidine and recommended that patients consider alternative medications.

Recently, the FDA discovered that NDMA levels can increase when Zantac is exposed to high temperatures, or even under normal storage conditions. High temperatures might occur during normal distribution and handling of the medication. The FDA also found that the older Zantac is, the higher the levels of NDMA it contains. These factors led to the April 1 recall, as stated in the FDA’s press release.

2. Does Zantac Cause Cancer?

There is not enough data to determine whether Zantac causes cancer. However, it might increase cancer risk when taken over a long period of time if there are high levels of NDMA present. As the FDA stated, distribution and handling conditions, as well as the length of time a product has been on the shelf, can raise NDMA to unsafe levels.

3. Do Other Heartburn Drugs Cause Cancer?

As of April 1, the FDA has not found NDMA in other popular heartburn medications, including:

According to the FDA, these drugs are safer alternatives for treating heartburn, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, or GERD.

On April 16, Amneal Pharmaceutical voluntarily recalled nizatidine oral solution because the medication may contain unsafe levels of NDMA. Nizatidine is a prescription drug used to treat ulcers and GERD.

Blood Pressure Drugs that Contain NDMA

Some blood pressure drugs have also been found to contain NDMA. In June 2018, Valsartan was recalled due to the presence of NDMA. The FDA investigated other drugs similar to Valsartan and found that some irbesartan and losartan products contained a different carcinogen known as N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

4. What Should I Do if I’m Taking Zantac or Another Drug with Ranitidine?

If you are using an over-the-counter ranitidine medication, stop taking it immediately. If you have a prescription, do not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor. Ask your primary care provider (PCP) about safer alternatives.

Find discounts on Rx medications for heartburn, acid reflux, and other conditions.

It’s important to monitor the FDA’s website for the latest information on drug recalls to keep yourself safe and informed. Your doctor and pharmacist also monitor the latest drug safety information and can be a resource for you.


do you need a statin - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

Statins represent one of the most commonly prescribed medication categories in the United States. In fact, two of the top five prescribed drugs in 2018 were statins.

Though they are ubiquitous, it is not immediately obvious who should be taking a statin in the first place. Read on to learn more about statins and whether you should discuss this type of therapy with your healthcare provider.

What Is a Statin?

A statin is a medication used to lower blood cholesterol levels and thereby prevent the formation of cholesterol-laden plaques in the arteries of the heart. By taking a statin to lower your blood cholesterol, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, and potentially avoid the unsavory problems associated with heart disease, such as heart attack and stroke.

How Do Statins Work?

Statins work by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is involved in the production of cholesterol. Statins are generally the first line of medication that is considered by healthcare providers when it comes to helping patients lower their cholesterol levels. Statins can be particularly effective when it comes to lowering a specific type of cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad” cholesterol. Most statins are taken orally, on a daily basis.

How Do I Know If I Need a Statin?

To determine whether or not you need a statin, your healthcare provider will examine your overall health status and cardiovascular risk. He or she can use a risk assessment calculator  to establish your personal risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years. This calculation will take into account such factors as your age, sex, race, blood pressure, current cholesterol levels, whether you have diabetes, and whether you smoke cigarettes.

Other important considerations when it comes to cardiovascular risk assessment include your family history, your weight, and your lifestyle. If you have known coronary artery disease (plaques in your arteries), diabetes, very high cholesterol levels, or a high calculated risk, your healthcare provider is more likely to recommend a statin.

What is the Official Recommendation on Statins?

The United States Preventive Services Task Force USPSTF) recommends that a statin be prescribed for people ages 40 to 75 without a history of cardiovascular disease who are calculated to have a 10 percent or greater risk of having a cardiovascular event within the next 10 years.

If your cardiovascular risk is determined to be low, a statin may not be necessary. However, regardless of your age or cardiovascular risk, lifestyle factors are critical when it comes to maintaining your cardiovascular health.

The American Heart Association recommends the following to optimize your cardiovascular health:

  • Eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, red meats, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugar
  • Get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity five times a week
  • Do not smoke cigarettes
  • Keep conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes well-controlled

What Are the Downsides of Taking a Statin?

Every prescription medication carries a risk of side effects, and statins are no exception. Statins are notorious for causing muscle pain and soreness. Rarely, statins can cause a more serious muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis, in which excessive muscle cell breakdown can damage the kidneys.

Statins are also known to raise blood sugar, sometimes tipping people into a prediabetic or diabetic state. Make sure to discuss the risks and benefits of statin therapy with your healthcare provider to ensure that you feel confident taking the medication.

What Should I Do If I’m Prescribed a Statin?

If, after a thorough conversation about the potential risks and benefits of statins, your healthcare provider prescribes you this medication, take action to lock in the best prescription price. You can use a ScriptSave® WellRx savings card to find the lowest price for your statin, and other medications, too.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025009/

http://tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator-Plus/#!/calculate/estimate/

https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/document/RecommendationStatementFinal/statin-use-in-adults-preventive-medication

http://www.onlinejacc.org/sites/default/files/additional_assets/guidelines/Prevention-Guidelines-Made-Simple.pdf

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

pill identifier - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

If you have ever found a pill bottle with a faded label in the dark crypts of your medicine cabinet, you are not alone. It is common for the bathroom to become a pharmacologic museum of sorts, especially if there are multiple people living in a household, each with their own chronic medical conditions. 

However, before you throw out those old pill bottles in a cathartic fit of spring cleaning, you may want to identify the medications, especially if there is a chance they are high-risk medicines that should be disposed of in a different way.

When it comes to the case of the mystery pill bottle, technology can be an amazing asset. Pill identifiers can take the guesswork out of medicine identification and help put your mind at ease. Read on to learn more about how pill identifiers work.  

What Is a Pill?

First, a few definitions. A “pill” is a blanket term that describes an oral method of medication delivery. There are two common types of pills: tablets (“tabs”) and capsules. Why is it important to know the difference between a tablet and a capsule? Some pill identifiers will ask you to indicate the specific form of your medication. 

Tablets are made of compressed powder, and most are meant to be swallowed, though some can be crushed, broken, or chewed. A capsule has an outer gelatin-like layer that holds a substance within, which can either be in powder or liquid form. Capsules are typically meant to just be swallowed, not crushed, broken, or chewed. 

If you are considering opening a capsule or breaking a tablet, check in with your pharmacist first to make sure that this is acceptable. Sometimes altering a tablet or capsule can interfere with the function of the medication. 

Sizing Up Physical Appearance

Once you have determined what type of pill you have in hand, two important features help in describing its appearance. The first is its color. Pill colors come in an impressive variety, so it can be helpful to pull up the pill identifier that you intend to use in order to try to match the pill’s color to the provided template. There can be many nuances when it comes to color. For example, within the “yellow” category, your pill could be described as amber, beige, peach, yellow, or yellow orange. 

The next step in identifying your pill is analyzing its shape. Though the classic pill shape is round or oblong, certain pills can stray from this pattern. A pill identifier will usually give you many options to choose from when determining your pill’s shape, from hexagonal to bullet-shaped to shield-shaped to a modified rectangle.

Decoding the Imprint

After describing its shape and color, the last step in identifying your pill is finding the imprint. Sometimes this may be worn off or indecipherable. However, if you can pinpoint it, the imprint is generally a combination of letters or numbers, on one or both sides of your pill. It may be printed in ink or engraved. A pill identifier will allow you to input the letters and numbers via free-text.

Putting It All Together

Now that you have your pill’s shape, color, and imprint, you can input these details into a pill identifier, such as the one available via ScriptSave® WellRx. The identifier will draw from a wide database of pill characteristics to provide you with a list of possible pill identities. You can filter through these results and look at the featured pills in order to determine the identity of your pill. The identifier makes this process easy and simple by providing full color pictures of each pill so you can do a side-by-side comparison.

Safe Medication Disposal

Once you have identified your pills, you may want to dispose of them, particularly if you have found them on the floor, if they are expired, or if you are no longer taking the medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides guidelines regarding safe drug disposal. Some medications can be dropped off at a safe disposal site, or, if one is not readily available, they can be immediately disposed of by flushing them down the toilet. This will help keep everyone in your household as safe as possible.

References:

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/safe-disposal-medicines/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-flush-potentially-dangerous-medicine#FlushList

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine, where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

vitamins and minerals - wellrx blog image

By Jina Sung, Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2020
The Ohio State University

On daily basis, our body builds skin, muscle, and bone and operates the whole system through thousands of pathways. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, and while relatively small quantities are required for our body, they are essential to make this process possible.

One-third of all Americans consume dietary supplements including Multivitamins/Minerals (MVMs) and the use of supplements has been steadily increasing.1 With this many American’s using MVMs, it may not surprise you that the poison control centers in the United States report 60,000 cases of vitamin toxicity occurring every year.

Since there are no standard regulations for MVMs, understanding the role of MVMs is necessary to get the most benefit out of taking MVMs supplements and avoid toxicities.

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins3,4 are organic substances and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid. Vitamins can be divided into two main subgroups: fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are, as the name suggests, better dissolved in fats and excesses are stored in the liver.  This means they linger the body for long periods time, which may result in higher risk of toxicity than water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Vitam#in AVitamin DVitamin EVitamin K
What it does?Vision protectionBone formationAntioxidantBlood clotting
Signs and Symptoms of DeficiencyNight-blindness, extreme dry eyesSoftening of bonesDeficiency is uncommon; neurological problemsBleeding
Recommended Daily Dose*900 mcg20 mcg15 mgg
*Recommended daily dose is for adults and children aged 4 years and older, and for pregnant/lactating women. For more information is available at https://www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/dailyvalue.jsp

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, can circulate easily and are not stored in our body. That’s why the kidney has an important role to regulate the level of water-soluble vitamins, such as by excreting excesses into urine. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin B groups and C.

Vitamin B GroupsVitamin C
What it does?  Function as co-enzyme that help the body obtain energy from food Subgroups: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin)Antioxidant, collagen/connective tissue formation, wound healing  
Signs and Symptoms of DeficiencyOverall impaired growth – fatigue, malnourishment, skin disorders, anemia, neurological disorder, diarrhea, or inflammation *B12 deficiency is common in vegetarians (those who does not eat animal products)Scurvy (bleeding and swollen gums, loose teeth), impaired would healing *secondary deficiency in alcoholics and/or smokers
Recommended Daily Dose*B1 (1.2 mg), B2 (1.3 mg), B3 (16 mg), B6 (1.7 mg), B7 (30 mcg), B9 (400 mcg), B12 (2.4 mcg)90 mg
*Recommended daily dose is for adults and children aged 4 years and older, and for pregnant/lactating women. For mor information is available at https://www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/dailyvalue.jsp

What are Minerals?

Minerals4,6,7 are like vitamins, but they are different in several basic ways. Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure – which means the minerals that you consume from nature, water or foods will find their way into your body easier than the vitamins do. There are about 4000 minerals known in the Earth and 16 essential minerals required for human body.5,6 We’ll just review some more common ones you can find on the market shelves.

CalciumChromiumIronMagnesiumZinc
What it does?  Bone/teeth formation, support for blood vessels, muscles  Insulin functionRed blood cell formationNervous system function, contract muscle, protein synthesisWound healing, reproduction
Signs and Symptoms of DeficiencyMuscle spasms, bone disorder, dental problemIncreasing risk of diabetesAnemiaTremor, muscle spasms, mental disorderHair loss, diarrhea, skin lesion
Recommended Daily Dose*1300 mg35 mcg18 mg420 mg11 mg
*Recommended daily dose is for adults and children aged 4 years and older, and for pregnant/lactating women. For mor information is available at https://www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/dailyvalue.jsp

What You Should Know About Vitamins and Minerals

The best source to receive vitamins and minerals is food. First, try with a balanced diet. You can build an individualized diet with your dietitian, or you can also find a chart showing the foods containing such vitamins from FDA website4 or NIH website8

  • Listen every day what your body tells you and discuss your concern or discomfort with your doctor
  • Getting a blood check periodically is a good idea to look at your overall health and prevent any deficiency that may be overlook just by symptoms
  • When choosing a supplement, try to avoid those that provide mega-doses of MVMs or have added botanicals whose properties are unknown – “natural” does not mean “safe!”

References:

  1. NIH State-of-the-Science Panel. National Institutes of Health state-of-the-science conference statement: multivitamin/mineral supplements and chronic disease prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:257S-264S
  2. Gummin DD, Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Brooks DE, Beuhler MC, et al. 2018 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 36th Annual Report. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2019 Dec;57(12):1220-1413. PubMed PMID: 31752545
  3. Berdanier, C., Berdanier, L., Zempleni, J. Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Metabolism. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. 2015 Feb
  4. Food and Drug Administration: Nutrition Facts Label; Vitamins and Minerals Chart, Available at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/factsheets/vitamin_and_mineral_chart.pdf last accessed February 6, 2020
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