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Boggio Family of Pharmacies

Boggios: A healthy choice for your whole life

Category Archives: Elderly Care

The most effective way of protecting yourself from the flu is by getting the flu shot each year. A new vaccine is developed annually based on the three strains of influenza which are predicted to be the most prevalent that year. The vaccine works by introducing a small amount of inactivated influenza virus into our body allowing our immune system to build an army of antibodies to the virus. If we are then exposed to the live virus, our immune system sends the antibodies to “attack” the foreign invader, preventing an infection from developing.
Unfortunately, sometimes the unexpected happens, as was the case this flu season. The influenza strain that ended up being the most widespread this year was not one of the three strains contained in the vaccine, so there were many cases of people getting sick – even those who did get vaccinated. Naturally, people are concerned about the effectiveness of the flu shot and have doubts about whether they should get the vaccine again.

Here are some points to consider when making your decision to get immunized next flu season:

1. Extensive research is done each year to make the decision about which three strains will be included in the vaccine. Generally, the predictions are very accurate and the vaccine prevents many thousands of people from becoming ill each year. However, we need to remember that the annual flu vaccine does not protect against all strains of the influenza virus, so there is a chance that someone could become infected with another strain.

2. We need to understand that what happened this year was unusual. This season, the virus essentially ‘outsmarted’ us. It was determined that the main viral strain mutated, leaving the vaccine less effective than expected. This mutation meant that the virus changed in such a way that the antibodies our immune system had developed after receiving the vaccine, were not able to mount a very effective response to infection by the live virus.

3. The flu vaccine CANNOT give you the flu. The components of the vaccine are inactivated influenza viral particles – meaning only pieces of the killed virus are present and are not able to cause infection.

4. Immunity from the flu shot is not immediate. It takes about 14 days for our immune system to develop antibodies to the strains contained in the vaccine. During this lag period, it is possible to develop an infection if contact with the virus occurs during the first two weeks after vaccination.

5. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months be immunized each year. Not only can it protect you from becoming very sick, but it can help to protect those around you, by reducing the spread of the virus. Furthermore, if you do come down with the flu after receiving the vaccination, the infection will likely be less severe and may not last as long.

6. Vaccines – including the flu vaccine – do NOT cause developmental disorders like autism. People have become very concerned with the idea that thimerosal (a preservative used in some vaccines) is linked to the development of autism in children, but there is no evidence of this being true. However, there are flu vaccines available that do not contain thimerosal if you still have concerns.

6. It is beneficial to get the flu shot at any point during flu season; not only at the beginning. Also, it is a good idea to get vaccinated even if you have already had the flu that season as the infection may have been caused by a different strain.

Although the flu vaccine is the most important form of protection from the flu virus, people must remember that hand hygiene is also a key component to preventing the spread of infection. Washing hands thoroughly and often, using hand sanitizer when washing is not possible, and staying home if you have flu-like symptoms to avoid spreading the virus to others.
Influenza can be a serious illness for many people, especially children, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised, but the flu vaccine is important for everyone. It helps to protect yourself and those around you from potentially becoming very ill. If you have more questions about the flu vaccine, please talk to your pharmacist.

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Mobility scooters offer the ability to travel great distances that are not usually within walking distance. They can help you move around your home, neighbourhood and inside stores. However they can be dangerous if not used safely.
Follow these tips before you head out so you can get safely from home to your destination.

Read the instruction manual upon purchase so you know the safety features and controls on your new scooter. Read the tips that are given for navigating bumps, curves and uneven ground. Some heavy duty scooters are designed for rough terrain. Learning to drive your scooter in a safe area such as a parking lot or driveway is always recommended to learn how your scooter manoeuvers in all weather. Having confidence will make it a safer experience for you and others around you.

Some basic scooter tips include:
• Use sidewalks whenever possible. If no sidewalks exist, travel on the far left side of the road facing traffic.
• Cross at pedestrian crosswalks. Check for traffic before crossing.
• Make “eye contact “with motorists or pedestrians before crossing to make sure they are stopping.
• Obey all traffic control signs and devices.
• Slow down when travelling around pedestrians and avoid travelling too closely.
• Keep to the right on sidewalks and avoid honking your horn.
• Drive your scooter straight at a ramp. Most scooters have anti tip wheels to keep them from tipping when doing angled manoeuvres.
• Your scooter should have a safety flag, reflectors and lights in the front and back so you can be seen at all times.
• Wearing a reflective safety vest is also a good idea and is essential if you have to travel at night.
• Carry a cell phone and have your emergency contact information taped onto your scooter so it is easy to find.

For more information on scooters please visit or call one of our four Boggio Family of Pharmacies Home Health Care locations. Our dedicated and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you with any questions you might have in purchasing your new scooter this season.

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With the summer finally in full swing, we can expect to be spending a lot more time outside enjoying the warm weather. Many of us may not think about it, but with the combination of warmer temperatures and increased activity, our bodies are losing more water than usual. If we do not replace the fluids that are lost, we are putting ourselves at risk of dehydration. Everyone has experienced minor dehydration. The common feeling of being thirsty is the body’s way of letting us know that it is becoming dehydrated and needs the lost fluids to be replaced. This signal should not be ignored, so when you feel thirsty, it’s time to get a drink of water. The problem arises when the person does not have close access to water or if they become dehydrated very quickly from too much heat exposure or exercise. At this point the symptoms of dehydration are more serious and may include weakness, dizziness, fainting, decreased urination, or deeply yellow-coloured urine. A person with any of these symptoms may require medical attention.

Fortunately, there are some very simple steps that you can take to prevent dehydration. Always bring extra water with you – especially for outdoor events or if working outside. Wear light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing as it will keep you cooler on hot, sunny days. Try to avoid exercise and exposure during high heat index days or at least limit time spent in the heat by finding a shaded area to cool down. Limit alcohol consumption, because alcohol increases water loss leading to dehydration. Many people may reach for an alcoholic beverage when they feel thirsty, but this is not a good choice as it will not replace the fluids that your body needs and it may impair your ability to sense the warning signs of dehydration.

It is important for everyone to keep hydrated, but it is especially important to ensure that children and elderly people are getting enough fluids. It may be difficult to get children to drink lots of water throughout the day, so providing them with snacks of fruits and vegetables that have high water content will help to replace those lost fluids. Some of the most hydrating foods include cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Older people may have difficulty getting around, they may be disabled or have trouble swallowing which can increase the risk of becoming dehydrated. Ensuring that they stay hydrated is extremely important as they may not sense the warning signs or simply may not communicate it with anyone.

Warmer weather and sunny days are ideal for outdoor events and activities, but please keep in mind our tips for staying cool and hydrated this summer season!

Very rarely does a day go by where there isn’t a question about constipation from a patient stopping by the pharmacy. Most patients want to know what they should take that is available without a prescription.

Constipation is a symptom that occurs when waste moves too slowly through the body, resulting in stool that is dry and hard. This often makes it difficult and painful to pass.

Some medications such as antidepressants, water pills, and certain pain killers (such as Oxycontin and Codeine) may cause constipation.

The frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, from as little as twice a week to a couple of times a day, and is affected by diet, medications, and exercise.

If you are having trouble going to the washroom, the first thing a pharmacist will usually recommend is increasing the amount of fibre in the diet by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables. In addition, drinking at least 8 glasses of water will minimize constipation.

If these suggestions do not work, there are several options available to you.

For  short-term treatment of constipation, ( if you haven’t been to the washroom in several days), a saline laxative such as Milk of Magnesia can be tried.  Alternatively glycerin suppositories work quite well.  If symptoms still do not resolve you could consider an enema with the advice of your physician.

Stimulant laxatives such as Dulcolax and Senokot can also be used to maintain regularity.  If you are on long term narcotic therapy you may need to take these types of medications as long as you are taking the narcotics.

For long-term treatment of constipation, bulk-forming agents such as Metamucil or Prodiem Plain can be used. These bulk-forming agents increase the stool weight, allowing the stool to pass through the body faster and cause more frequent bowel movements. These agents typically take about 12-72 hours to take effect and are usually safe to use for long periods of time. When taking bulk-forming agents, it is recommended to drink lots of fluid.

For young children there are a few options.  For immediate relief a pediatric glycerin suppository can be tried.  For chronic long term management PEG 3350 is often prescribed, or is available over-the-counter as LAX-A-Day.  You should consult your family doctor however if you want to try an oral medication for a child suffering from chronic constipation.

If you are not having trouble going to the washroom, but you find the stool to be too hard and painful to pass, the pharmacist may recommend a stool softener such as Colace (docusate sodium) that will soften the stool for increased comfort.

Before deciding on a therapy, talk to a pharmacist and they can help you decide on a treatment that is right for you.

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Symptoms of menopause can be very uncomfortable.  The three most common complaints are hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness.  After the Women’s Health Initiative trial many patients discontinued their hormone therapy due to concerns about cardiovascular problems and breast cancer with Premarin and Premplus.  Unfortunately this left many women struggling with their symptoms.

Mort recent guidelines have emphasized that short-term use of hormone therapy during early menopause may not be that risky.  The risk of heart disease is small if hormones are taken within the first 10 years of menopause.  Also, evidence indicates that the risk of breast cancer probably doesn’t increase when combination hormone therapy is used for only 2 to 3 years.  (Of course you should consult your doctor for their opinion on this information).

There are other options if patients do not want to go the traditional route of hormone replacement.  The best way to deal with symptoms is to treat them individually.

For patients with hot flashes try non drug options first.  Patients should exercise, manage their weight, stop smoking and avoid hot drinks, caffeine and alcohol.  There are some herbal products on the market that can be tried, but in general do not have much evidence for effectiveness.  Black cohosh is being used by many women but it does not seem any better than placebo for hot flashes.  In addition there have been some reports of liver toxicity with its use.  Soy may provide a small benefit.  A common dose is 60 grams /day of soy protein from food, or up to 120 mg/day of soy isoflavones from supplements.  Evening primrose, dong quai, wild yam, and red clover, chasteberry and ginseng have not been shown to work for hot flashes.   There are some prescription drugs that can be tried as well.  These include venlafaxine, gabapentin, and clonidine.  You can ask your doctor if one of these agents are right for you.

Vaginal dryness can be treated by an over the counter product called Replens.  If this proves ineffective a local estrogen therapy such as Vagifem can be tried.

Insomnia can be treated with a low dose non addictive prescription medication such as Zopiclone. An over the counter medication like Gravol or Benadryl can also be used on an occasional basis.

Osteoporosis is a real concern for menopausal women not on hormone therapy.  Women of this age should make sure they are getting 1500 mg of calcium and 1000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Bio-identical Hormone Replacement is another option for symptom treatment.  Hormones used in this treatment are identical to those in the human body.  Bio-identical Hormone therapy is very individualized treatment.  Patients have their hormones analyzed through a saliva test and then their prescriptions are tailor made to meet their needs.  Doses and hormones used are compounded in the pharmacy for each individual depending on their deficiencies and physician’s prescription.  For further information on this type of treatment please visit our website www.boggios.com.

Menopause can be an extremely difficult time for many women.  Luckily there are some good treatment options for the most bothersome symptoms.  The best approach to dealing with them is to consult your doctor and pharmacist about the safest most effective treatment for you.

Osteoporosis affects about 1.4 million Canadians. It is more prevalent in patients than heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer. Twenty percent of women and forty percent of men die within one year of sustaining a hip fracture.

If you are over fifty you should ask your physician about a bone density test. This test is painless and provides a good indication if you are at risk for an osteoporosis fracture. If you are at risk for a fracture there are a number of nonpharmalogical steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include:

 Regular exercise
 Reduce your risk of falling. Assess your medications, some can put you at a greater risk for falls such as benzodiazepines and other psychotropics.
 Make sure you have adequate protein, calcium, and vitamin D intake. Typically patients 50 years and older need 1500mg of calcium and 1000 IU of vitamin D daily. (New evidence is showing vitamin D may also be useful in fighting certain types of cancer.) Canadians don’t get enough sun exposure to make up this requirement and so a supplement is almost always needed.
 Smoking, alcohol and caffeine, can all have a negative impact on your bones and so these should be limited in your diet.
 Some medications have also been associated with fractures. Proton pump inhibitor (i.e. Pariet, Losec), SSRIs (i.e. Paxil, Prozac),and high doses of vitamin A. It may not be a good idea to take high doses of multivitamins to obtain a higher dose of vitamin D. High dose steroid therapy (prednisone) can also lead to osteoporosis.

There are medications you can take that can help prevent bone loss and your risk of fracture. Bone is constantly being built and broken down. There are medications called bisphosphonates that work on the cells involved in this process. These medications, specifically Actonel and Fosamax have been shown to reduce hip fractures. Didrocal is an older medication in this class that does not work as well and should no longer be used. There is also an infusion called Aclasta in this class of medications. This medication is given by an i.v. infusion once yearly.

Other pharmacologic agents are available to help prevent osteoporosis. These other options are used in very specific cases and your practitioner would have to balance the pros and cons of these agents for each patient.

Osteoporosis can be treated very effectively. If you want to learn more we are having a clinic day at both stores. Please call today and reserve a spot at one of our clinics.